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From green-friendly hotels to sandy beaches, Cape May County, New Jersey, boasts a number of draws for environmentally conscious tourists. Visitors previously had to work to take them all in, but there will soon be a convenient map of these amenities.
The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce is compiling a bike map and a list of sites for an ecotourism brochure it hopes to have printed and ready for distribution by Memorial Day.
Chamber President Vicki Clark, who is coordinating the project, said the finished product will be one more reason for people to vacation in Cape May.
“The more information we provide on things that add value to their vacation experience, the more likely they are to stay for a longer period of time or come back more frequently,” she said.
The heart of the brochure will be a map of various bike routes in the county. It will include a list of bike-accessible green attractions such as the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor and the Cape May County Park and Zoo in Cape May Court House.
Brochures for these and other ecofriendly attractions are already among the most popular available at the chamber’s welcome center in Cape May Court House, but they have not previously been listed together, Clark said.
The chamber kicked around the idea of creating such a brochure for a few years, but did not move forward until early last year, when it found an opportunity for a grant through the New Jersey Travel and Tourism Office. It was given a matching grant worth about $3,600 to pay for the project, she said.
As part of its grant application the chamber had to find a handful of businesses that would pledge to sponsor the brochure. The Concord Suites in Avalon was one of those that signed up in support of the project.
The hotel produces more than 60 percent of its power using a solar array it installed two years ago, uses paper products made of sugar cane residue and is diligent about using only necessary light, among other things.
Concord Suites general manager Susan Cawley said many of the hotel’s guests choose to stay there specifically for their green practices, and the trend is growing.
“(Travel website) TripAdvisor has great stats on the impact that green travelers are having on businesses now, the percentage of people who look for … eco tourism,” she said. “Cape May County, this coastal environment, is just crying out for it.”
Biking has always been a popular mode of transportation for tourists and locals alike in Cape May County, and they’re poised to take on an even bigger role with a proposed connection of the bike paths in Middle and Lower townships. If the plan goes through, the county would have a continuous bike path from the zoo south to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry in North Cape May.
While visiting the beach is mostly a summer activity, Clark said biking can be enjoyed year-round. The bike community travels well, she said, and tapping into that market should contribute to traffic in Cape May all year.
“We’re always looking to expand those opportunities and promote a variety of reasons for people to come here, in addition to the wonderful summer experience you have at the beach and the boardwalk,” she said.
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