By Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – Tourism officials in Atlantic City are hoping for some positive attention and energy as Miss America contestants arrive on the same day the Revel Casino closed.
The 53 contestants will make an appearance at the Atlantic City International Airport Tuesday night before a ceremony in front of Boardwalk Hall at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
They arrive in a city down on its luck with the Showboat closed Sunday, the Revel early Tuesday morning and Trump Plaza schedule to close September 16.
Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, says Miss America is an opportunity for the world to see Atlantic City is still a vibrant town.
“It’s particularly important because most people associate the closure of the buildings with an assessment that Atlantic City is not busy. They’re thinking that these buildings are closing because the attraction is not drawing visitors. The reality is we’re attracting visitors, they’re just not spending the money on gaming,” says Cartmell.
She says last year the pageant and all the events before it generated between $30-40 million for the local economy.
Cartmell expects Miss America to be an even a bigger success this year but with nearly 6,000 casino layoffs the unemployment rate this month could hit 20 percent in Atlantic City, according to State Senator Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic County).
“The real problem is in the near future things are bleak,” says Whelan who was previously mayor of Atlantic City.
He says drumming up more tourism is good, but long term economic growth needs to focus on industries like technology, medicine and education.
“There is no one cure-all, whether it’s Miss America or Stockton or anything else. We need a lot of little pieces to come together to get this thing going in the right direction.”
On Tuesday the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will host an Atlantic City Career Fair on September 10th with 40 employers interested in hiring.
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