Reporting Kai Jackson
OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) – Sometime this summer, you could get free gas just for taking a trip “down the ocean.”
Kai Jackson explains Ocean City is fighting back against high gas prices with a new tourist incentive.
It’d be nice if you didn’t have to pinch pennies while on vacation. Ocean City officials plan to help put something in your tank and help you keep more of what’s in your wallet.
Rodney the Lifeguard is front and center again in Ocean City’s campaign to recruit tourists. If he can’t pull it off, leaders hope free gas will do the trick. Although the price has been decreasing, Ocean City plans to give away $100,000 worth of gas to bring people to the beach.
“You know, with the gas situation the way it is and we’re looking to increase our tourism base, I thought this was the perfect fit,” said Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley.
Ocean City officials are also concerned about plans to raise bridge tolls. The current toll for a two-axle vehicle on the Bay Bridge is $2.50. It jumps to $5 in October and by July 2013, it will be $8. Marylanders say the higher costs will strain budgets and possibly change travel plans.
“I’m not happy about anything doubling in price,” said one.
Money for the gas giveaway will come from Ocean City’s advertising budget. Officials say in recent years, tourism—like the national economy—has been down. Whether it’s free gas, discounts or other incentives, city leaders say they feel an urgency to do something.
“I think it shows that we care about our visitors and I think it’s going to be very huge,” Ashley said.
The Maryland Department of Transportation says the toll increases are needed to improve the Bay Bridge and the Baltimore Harbor crossings.