Ocean City, Md. branded this summer the lucky summer of 13 in its ad campaign, but it's been anything but lucky.
To be frank, this summer has been a PR nightmare for Ocean City with weekly local headlines that read more like a metropolitan newspaper than a coastal one — stabbings on the boardwalk, the attempted stabbings of two local business owners, two bank robberies, pedestrians being struck by cars, and even the thinly veiled discussion about race packaged in a public debate about decency, fashion and sagging pants. And on top of all of that, tourism numbers are down 3 percent.
Susan Jones is the executive director of the Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Association, and is also on the city's Tourism Advisory Board.
"We know there are issues, and I don't think anyone has turned their head to those issues," says Jones.
She says big changes will be coming in the fall to repair the town's image.
"That might mean new technology, more cameras, more surveillance, more people on the streets," she says.
Jones says a major change in the town's advertising strategy is looming, and the town may go as far as establishing a curfew on the Boardwalk since a large chunk of the violent incidents are happening after 2 a.m.
Either way, Jones and other town officials know they have to improve the perception about the town of Ocean City as much as they need to fix the problems its facing, and those are two different tasks entirely.