Several previously noted trends continued through December for non-gaming business in Atlantic City, providing some positive year-end results, particularly in the convention and visitor services sectors.
While December 2013 business at the Atlantic City Convention Center was off slightly from December 2012, overall full-year business showed a significant rebound from 2012. With 91 conventions, tradeshows and public shows in 2013 versus 100 in 2012, the overall number of attendees for Convention Center events rose 22% to more than 324,000 attendees and the room nights associated with those events increased by 10% to more than 78,000. Additionally, delegate spending jumped 29% to nearly $123 million.
"This demonstrates both the attractiveness of Atlantic City in drawing convention delegates, and the quality of events that are coming in respect to the number of room nights associated with them," said John Palmieri, executive Director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. "With an average of nearly two events every week, the Atlantic City Convention Center has a solid foundation going forward, particularly with the $1 million incentive program in place through 2016."
The number of conventions and meetings at individual properties that were arranged through the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority (ACCVA) division of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority increased slightly in December 2013 over the same month last year, with three conventions drawing 265 attendees who used 274 room nights and spent almost $180,000. This continues an upward trend that has remained consistent since September.
Statistics for meetings and conventions at individual properties that are not booked through the ACCVA are not tracked.
More visitors stopped for information and assistance at the Atlantic City Visitor Information Centers on the Boardwalk and Atlantic City Expressway. The centers welcomed 8,135 visitors this December, a 19.5% increase over last December. Year to date, the centers saw 10.4% more visitors in 2013. In addition, information was provided to almost 11,000 convention delegates throughout the year at the concierge desk at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
The percentage of new visitors to the www.doatlanticcity.com Website in December remained high, with 75% of the site’s 168,723 unique visitors being new, signaling a continuing trend of attracting strong interest from potential new tourists coming for events and getaways.
Use of mobile technology also continues to trend upward, nearly tripling as the mobile.accva.org site registered 133,811 visits, a 146.2% increase in December 2013 over December 2012. Year over year there is a 54.6% increase, proving the growing popularity of mobile travel information. The Atlantic City Tourism Facebook site also remains popular, registering 438,622 "likes" in 2013, a 20.4% increase over 2012.
Figures for overall traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway were not available at time of publication.
Spectrum Gaming Group provides the following additional independent insight to factors impacting December’s business climate:
The following factors may have impacted drive-in visitation and tourism metrics related to Atlantic City in December 2013 (and on a year-over-year basis, unless otherwise noted):
o On a calendar day basis, December 2013 was less favorable compared to December 2012 (i.e., there was one less Saturday and one more weekday, a Tuesday). New Year’s Eve fell on a Tuesday in 2013 versus a Monday in 2012.
o No extreme weather phenomena impacted Atlantic City during December 2013, or in December 2012, and according to the National Weather Service:
• On average, December 2013 was colder than December 2012 (an average daily temperature of 39 degrees compared 43 degrees, respectively).
• Overall, there was less precipitation in December 2013 compared to December 2012 (i.e., 12 days compared to 15 days, respectively). However, we note the following:
• Snowfall and freezing rain did occur on a Sunday in December 2013 while there was no snowfall and/or freezing rain during entire month of December 2012.
• There were 9 days with significant precipitation (a quarter-inch or more) in December 2013 compared to 8 such days in December 2012. Three of the four full weekend periods in December 2013 were impacted by significant precipitation compared to all four full weekend periods impacted by such in December 2012.
• Despite the absence of extreme weather phenomena in the Atlantic City region in December 2012, it is important to note that storm-related recovery activities (resulting from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012) continued throughout the region and continued to negatively impact visitation to Atlantic City through December 2012. Beyond the Atlantic City region, this storm devastated many communities in central and northern New Jersey, as well as throughout New York City and Long Island, which are principal feeder markets for visitation to Atlantic City.
o According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average price for a gallon of gas in the region for December 2013 was 1.4 percent less compared to December 2012 ($3.56 vs. $3.61 per gallon). However, the average gas price in December 2013 was higher than the two prior months (and up by 3.2 percent or $0.11 from the November average price per gallon).
o December 2013 was the first full month of internet gaming in New Jersey (available to adults within New Jersey and offered through Atlantic City casinos).
The figures quoted above and others are available in the monthly Tourism Barometer, available online at http://www.doatlanticcity.com/about/stats.aspx.