Officials in Long Beach Island and areas of Southern Ocean County are accustomed to seeing their summer populations swell and now they know the economic impact.

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For the first time, the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce released the findings of its new Rockport Analytics Tourism Report. Chamber Destination Marketing Director Lori Pepenella says the report shows visitors generated over $1.2 billion dollars in area spending.

Pepenella says, "It shows how much of a partner we are with the county and with the state in really promoting tourism for New Jersey."

She says the numbers are broken down into specific areas of spending with the largest chunk going to lodging, "which 95 percent happens to be home rentals. So it is a very significant amount of money, $469 Million and then with food and beverage, we have a $269 million dollar expenditure."

The study shows the LBI region ranked near the top ten tourism generators in the State.

Pepenella believes the study will be used to help them measure how they're doing in the future.

"I believe that not only will it help us keep track of how we're growing but also be used as a tool for incoming businesses. She believes the figures will help realtors fill some of the vacant buildings by showing prospective business owners that the LBI region is a growing market. "We now have the numbers of where we can grow, where we need to market to expand and certainly the numbers of where we rank."

The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will be holding its annual State of the Chamber of January 8th at the Sea Oaks Country Club and Rockport Analytics will be giving a summary overview presentation of the 2011 Tourism Economic Impact Study. Information about the study is available at the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce 265 W. Ninth St, Ship Bottom NJ. Telephone number 609-494-7211or www.visitLBIregion.com