Why Tourists Pay More at the Beach

I’m on our annual beach week with the extended family in New Jersey and the beach patrol comes by insisting I buy beach tags for everyone 12 and over.

The prices are: $6 for one day, $12 for one week, or $24 for the season (but only $19 for the season if bought before Memorial Day).

The price structure is very clever: Most people who rent stay for 1 week (spend $12) or 2 weeks (spend $24, since they are unlikely to be informed about the pre-season deal). The permanent residents (or owners of the properties that are rented part-season) are informed about the deal and spend $19.

Weekend visitors buy the day-tags. Each tag is color-coded, so it is easy for the beach patrol to separate markets to create and maintain this clever form of price discrimination.


Tim

Wow, am I sick of hearing the "compared to your $4 daily coffee" argument (price of a bottle of water is close behind). What about those of us smart enough to realise $4/day adds up to a lot and so don't waste our money like that?

Also $19 for "3 months of beach time". Pfft. I'd like to see someone actually get that level of value for money.

Paying for beaches is pretty crazy. They're a public resource - if taxes go towards keeping them improved then so be it - they should use local resident's taxes, who also see the benefit of increased tourism.

Alternatively, you could go with the Australian approach for lifeguards, and rely on volunteers and donations, which seems to work great.

Matt

Big Daddy:

"New Jersey-Love it or leave it?" Either way, you'll pay through the nose.

Gene

Thats amazing. The people that profit from the tourism should be paying for dredging (replacing erroded sand) and cleanliness. The beaches that I live near (in Australia) are cleaned every morning and dregding is an ongoing activity AND an artifical reef has been built to make the waves better. All of this was funded by the local authority who recieve high local taxes from tourism operators. It's a working model. Maybe something NJ should look into....

Ben

I see why you're blogging rather than at the beach. I've never heard of such a thing as "beach passes" before. Sounds ridiculous. Not that I needed another reason to avoid New Jersey.

jblog

Wow, who runs that concession -- Tony Soprano?

"That's some lovely beach furniture you have there -- be a shame if anything happened to it..."

Big Daddy in Jersey

Discordian--that is truly old school Jersey avoidance technique. Well done. New Jersey--Love it or Leave it.

discordian

Your rental didn't include beach passes?

Every time I've rented down the shore the rental came with beach passes. Renters usually buy season passes and leave them in the house for the renters.

However - each house only gets so many, so I suppose if it's your extended family someone will have to pay of you're staying in the same house.

Of course... the water is not owned by the town so the old trick here is if you see the beach pass cop get in the water.

discordian in NJ.

Ben

"Why don't they just build a wall and install some turnstiles while they're at it."

Have you ever been to New Jersey? Most of the major access routes into it are free, but cost a toll to get out. $3 is, admittedly, a small price to escape Camden, but makes me very happy I don't commute there by car from Philadelphia.

Aeirlys

I'm with Jessica, it's crazy to pay to visit the beach. In California the beaches, like any other public park, are maintained with tax money. Tourists pump revenue into the local economy - why discourage them by charging to visit the beach?

Big Daddy in Jersey

First, it is NJ--only the strong survive. Miss California above is outraged, but doesn't realize that CA residents are also paying for beach maintenance and lifeguards, they are just paying some other way. Americans are outraged at paying $4 for gas or $19 for a summer pass to the beach. But it doesn't seem that anyone reading the NYTimes cares that the bottle of water that they are drinking sets the price of water someplace around $16 a gallon. Gulp it down and man up.

Dan

Got to love how NJ charges for everything. Why don't they just build a wall and install some turnstiles while they're at it.

I heard a good joke about the reopening of the NJ state Museum (It's real) on the Conan O'Brian Show. Admission is free, but they charge you $0.50 every 100 yards and $10.00 to leave.

Jessica

I'm amazed you have to pay to be at the beach in the first place, let alone $6 a day per person. That's ridiculous. In California the beaches are free. I've seen a pay beach in France, but that was one particular part of the beach where they had lawn chairs and umbrellas and stuff-- you could still go to the normal beach for free.

David

I'm generally not surprised-- by California having free beaches while Atlantic beaches require paid accesss, or that in the event of a pay structure the residents get a bit of a break.

Their property, state, and municipal taxes probably all go into paying for those roads the tourists drove in on, and the maintainance of various other levels of infrastructure without which there would be no reasonable access to or preservation of beaches.

Also, they've probably already paid through the nose for the rights to live near the water; wouldn't it be really double-billing them to treat beach access like something that isn't included in the cost of living near a beach? That they should be tourists in their own zip code? I understand that public beaches should be for the common good, but one can't ignore the tacit benefits that surround a subject like property ownership. The three L's of real estate, for instance.

On Long Island you have to bring proof of address showing your residence in the vicinity of certain beaches to get seasonal access there; otherwise it's a flat through-the-roof per-day basis. I envy those seasonal pass-holders, but then again, I guess it's a perk of being able to afford living in the Hamptons.

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Nancy

Sorry, I got the fee schedule messed up. The IN dunes state park appears to be $10 per car per day. The national park is cheaper at $6 per car and also cheaper for bikes at $1 per day. When you drive all the way up to sleepy bear dunes in Michigan it coast $10 per car. You can see down 6 feet though, the water is so clear. Plus their dunes are more awesomer. And as always Lake Michigan has no salt.

Even on the Atlantic, Acadia in maine costs $10 for the beach. Hardly anyone gets in the water, though, because it's only 50 degrees even in July and August. Most people sit and watch the freaks who dare to go in. It was cheaper and just as crystal clean but probably 60 degrees at Popham State Park in Maine and it ony cost $4 per car.

Of course, you probably find free beaches near all these places. When I was in Arkansas at a beach in the state park, they routinely checked the water for bacteria levels and told me when it was safe to swim or not. I guess that's another service money pays for.

Anyway, I would stick to the beaches in the North despite the cold water. As i tell everyone, getting in is like inside out drinking freezer cold vodka. The southern states beach water Pacific or Atlantic seemed murkier to me, even in San Diego where they told me the beaches were going to be so clean.

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David

I'm generally not surprised-- by California having free beaches while Atlantic beaches require paid accesss, or that in the event of a pay structure the residents get a bit of a break.

Their property, state, and municipal taxes probably all go into paying for those roads the tourists drove in on, and the maintainance of various other levels of infrastructure without which there would be no reasonable access to or preservation of beaches.

Also, they've probably already paid for through the nose the rights to live near the water, wouldn't it be really double-billing them to treat beach access like something that isn't included in the cost of living near a beach? That they should be tourists in their own zip code?

On Long Island you have to bring proof of address showing your residence in the vicinity of certain beaches to get seasonal access there; otherwise it's a flat through-the-roof per-day basis. I envy those seasonal pass-holders, but then again, I guess it's a perk of being able to afford living in the Hamptons.

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Jesse

It's really not that crazy. Many beaches in NJ are constantly victims of erosion, and sand needs to be pumped back in and dunes need to be reconstructed - all for the sake of the tourism industry. You are paying the price for a large, clean beach, usually with quality lifeguards on hand at every block. $19 for 2-3 months of spending time at the beach is a small price to pay, when your daily latte might reach $4 a cup.

DJH

I live in a town with a lake, and 3 beaches. What we do is a bit different than this.

1. Two of the beaches are "public," i.e. for anyone, and charge -- per car -- a few dollars a day ($4 or 5 if memory serves). There is no weekly, monthly, or season price.

2. The third beach is for residents only (residency demonstrated by showing registration for the car which is getting the sticker). Price is something like $40/car for the whole season, no daily, weekly or monthly pricing.

Note that all of these beaches are some distance away from hotels and homes so that almost no one walks to them; that's why access is charged by car, not by person. (You can walk, of course, in which case access would be free so far as I know, but this is a very rural area; few are able to do so.)

Catherine

"Australia: 16,000 miles of coastline, 20.5m people"

It's interesting here that you point out Australia as a whole. The majority of that coastline is not the sort of place you'd go to the beach at. In fact, there is no beach, or anything much, except a cliff face.

We also don't have pay for beaches because we've worked out that at busy beaches it's better to charge people to park their cars near the beach, thus taxing the worst sort of congestion - car traffic, and not punishing local residents who are more likely to walk. Of course if you don't mind a walk you're more than welcome to park outside the pay-for zone.

I'd honestly be shocked if any public Aussie beach tried to institute this sort of pay system -- they'd end up with a complete boycott of the beach, most likely, which would greatly upset the surrounding businesses!

Giant Fat &ss showing-too-much Jersey Beach Babe

After visiting Germany and after having had to pay 50 cents (euro cents) to go to the bathroom at rest stops and many bars in Germany, I've realized that sometimes things are much nicer if you pay for them.

I wish Jersey beach bathrooms would charge 50 cents for using them so that they'd be nice too...

With that said, New Jersey taxes us to death. Will you stop with the taxes already? I'd like to feed my kid so he can get fat like me.

...so, I take that back, I don't want to pay a pee tax too.

Lisa

Hey everyone,

California....New Jersey....I was born and raised in California but now live in Point Pleasant, NJ and have for the past 17 years. I myself don't go to Point Pleasant beach because the price of taking my family is too high. And I'm a resident! No breaks for me!

Big Daddy, sorry, but NJ sucks. I don't buy your explanation as to where the money is going to. Those things (lifeguards, beach erosion, etc.) should be taken care of by our exhorbitant taxes.

Life in NJ...things that should be private are public and things that should be public (such as beaches) are privated. We in NJ are so over-regulated, over-taxed, and overwhelmed with toxic waste and corruption, it makes me sick.

Which is too bad. NJ is actually a beautiful state and I've actually come to love the state itself -- I just hate the way it's run. I'm getting tired of being taxed so hard and not receiving anything in return.

NJ...love it or leave it...I choose to leave it, and soon, and I am not the only one. Most people who live here, including the natives, hate it here.

So...beaches should be PUBLIC, much like a public park. We should NOT have to pay to use them. It IS an outrage and should NOT be tolerated.

End of commentary.

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