REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – The Rehoboth Beach Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce is calling on Delaware Governor John Carney for help.
They’re asking him to encourage visitors to visit Sussex County’s beach towns – and support local businesses. “They have five weeks left at the most. We are luckily a year-round area for weekends but I’m not so sure what’s going to happen this year,” said President and CEO of the Rehoboth Beach Dewey beach Chamber of Commerce Carol Everhart.
Everhart says that if something isn’t done soon – some businesses might have to close their doors for good. “You will see shuttered doors if more is not done. It’s a known fact that it’s going to happen. Some have already closed part of the week or for the rest of the season,” said Everhart.
The chamber sent a letter to Governor Carney asking for help getting tourists and their dollars back to the beach towns. In the letter – they outlined more than $205 million in lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Paul Kuhns tells 47ABC that those numbers are deeply concerning. “It’s going to be very difficult. I think as you’ve seen the numbers coming out of the Chamber – their estimates are pretty low,” said Mayor Kuhns.
Owner of Bombshell Boutique in downtown Rehoboth Beach Gina March tells 47ABC that the lack of tourists this season has dealt a huge blow to the business. “We are down 50% in sales from where we were last year. It’s definitely hurting us,” said March.
Everhart tells 47ABC that she thinks the low tourist numbers are because of a lack of positive and clear messaging from the state about what’s open in Rehoboth Beach. She says she hopes to see Governor Carney move to phase three of reopening soon – and make it clear that Delaware’s beach towns are open. “It’s our job to make sure that the governor has this information, and we would like to work with him to make sure that the messaging is as positive as possible,” said Everhart.
March says that if more help doesn’t come soon, next summer many storefronts may be empty. “We count on these months to hold us over all winter long and I don’t know where we’re going to stand if we’re basically just being able to pay the bills right now,” said March.