A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Matawan-Aberdeen Tourism Information - 2012

We visited the New Jersey tourist information room at the Montvale Rest Area (GSP mile marker 171) on the way home from Massachusetts this afternoon. It's a rather large center where tourists coming south can pick up brochures that will help them plan their visits to our state. I wanted to see how our local area promotes itself through these brochures. If we don't brag on ourselves, no one will come.

Aberdeen-Matawan is in the northwest corner of the Shore Region of the NJ Travel Guide, which is handed out in bulk at the center. Our presence in the guide is unimpressive, with random listings and lots of gaps. Here's a breakdown of the guide, by section:
  • Visitors Info has a listing for the Matawan-Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce (pg 24) and a full page ad for Monmouth County tourism (pg 25). The guide promotes nineteen points in the Shore Region; only one -- Keansburg Amusement Park and Runaway Rapids Family Waterpark -- is nearby.
  • Destinations (pp 26-43) includes Cliffwood (Funtime America), Keansburg (Runaway Rapids Waterpark), Keyport (Keyport Business Alliance, Captain John's Charter Fishing, Henry Hudson Trail, Keyport Fishing Pier, and Keyport Municipal Boat Ramp), Matawan (Party and Play -- actually in Old Bridge, Market Place I and II -- also in Old Bridge, and Cheesequake State Park -- yet again in Old Bridge), Union Beach (Visitor information listing). 
  • Beaches (pg 44) does not include Cliffwood Beach or Keyport. Why? They both have fishing and permit food.Cliffwood Beach has a seawall that could be listed as a boardwalk. 
  • Lodging (pp 45-50)includes 2 hotels in Hazlet.
  • Campgrounds (pg 51) mistakenly includes Cheesequake Park under Matawan.
We could do better in this guide. Matawan could promote Burroughs Mansion, the Freneau House and Gravesite, the old stagecoach stop at what is now the Brass Rail restaurant, the historic graveyard at St James AME Zion church, Lake Matawan, Lake Lefferts, the Hudson Trail, and perhaps, in the near future, a long-overdue memorial to the Matawan Creek shark attacks of 1916 and a restored Ryer House. It's a no-brainer that Matawan destinations should not include spots that are really in Old Bridge, even if they share the same zip code. And Cliffwood Beach could promote its bass fishing, natural beach, and beautiful seawall.

As for other tourist brochures available at the center, the Matawan-Aberdeen area should aim to add a listing in a future edition of the Directory of NJ Bed & Breakfasts. The downtown would have to be more inviting to tourists by adding a good mix of businesses, developing and promoting its historic and natural assets, and drawing more attention to its transportation and geographic advantages. Red Bank has its own tri-fold brochure; there's no reason why the Matawan-Aberdeen area couldn't make some adjustments and fill a tourist pamphlet of its own. Our area could also aim to upgrade the Spotlight Players to a professional theatre company so it can be added to the NJ Theatre Alliance Calendar.


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