The annual Ocean to Bay Bike Tour, which was held on April 21 this year, has increasingly demonstrated its ability to both offer an option to locals looking for something to do outdoors on a spring weekend and to bring people from outside the area — and even the region — to the Quiet Resorts for a good time and to spend a little cash on food, drink, shopping and a nice place to stay.
The 2012 tour sold out a record five weeks in advance, with nearly 1,300 cyclists taking part, coming from 14 states and Washington, D.C. The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the tour, reported that 93 percent of this year’s participants came from outside the Chamber’s service area, with 10 percent of them coming to the area for the first time, just for the tour. Many of them can be expected to return to the area, as well.
And, while they were here, 75 percent of them ate at a local restaurant, 50 percent shopped at a local store and more than half of them stayed in the area for two or more nights. That’s all money that goes into the local economy, supporting wages for restaurant workers, retail clerks, hotel employees, and — indirectly — for many, if not most, of us who call this area home 365 days a year. And in a time of slow economic growth, it’s good news for everyone that people are willing to spend their hard-earned dollars with us.
On the heels of the disappointing news that the Make-A-Wish Foundation was moving their fall triathlon away from its traditional home at Sea Colony, this kind of overwhelming response to an event such as the bike tour is encouraging. Even more encouraging are the plans to add even more 5Ks and other active recreation events to the area’s calendars for the shoulder seasons, including the new fall event that will essentially replace the lost one.
Encouraging visitors and part-time residents to spend even more of their time in the Quiet Resorts is something that will help make this community vital year-round, offering more jobs and more chances at success for our small businesses, and more fun for us all.
Additions such as the Freeman Stage, Dickens Parlour Theatre, Clear Space Theatre Company and the movie showings on the beach that Bethany is adding this year extend that increasing appeal to fans of the arts, promising the area will not only be a vacation destination in the future but one in which full-time residents have even more entertainment options than they do now.
American Profile magazine recently named Bethany Beach’s boardwalk one of the two best in the nation, and Travel &?Leisure magazine earlier this year declared the town is one of the best “secret” beach destinations in the entire world. The secret may be out, but the area still retains its “secret” charm as the Quiet Resorts — a charm that’s only enhanced by events such as the bike tour and all the new activities on the horizon.
And as Ocean View holds its Homecoming event this Saturday, May 12, it’s a timely reminder that this area is a great one to call home, or home away from home.