Bennies help build the shore


Allie Kuo

The Asbury Park boardwalk is a popular New Jersey tourist destination.

Lauren Spiezia

Summer at the Jersey Shore is marked by pork roll sandwiches, an overload of sunscreen and the inevitable beach traffic. From Memorial Day weekend to the final days of summer, tourists from inland New Jersey and out of state visitors flock to towns along the coast; as a result, locals have labeled the group as “bennies.” The Inkblot News recently reported that one theory behind the term’s origin is that it is an acronym for some places that tourists commonly call home: Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York.

Senior Michelle Etienne of Avon-by-the-Sea has first-hand experience with observing tourists’ behavior.

“I work on the beach at a concession counter so I deal with a lot of people not from the area and some are rude about the beach rules and don’t follow them or pay attention…but most are appreciative of the beach,” Etienne said.

While the small minority of unruly beach tourists that refuse to abide by guidelines at the shore cause a headache for surrounding lifeguards and other beachgoers, tourists bring diversity to Jersey coastlines. Whether in a vacation rental or just spending a day at the beach, visitors from all over the country enrich each shore town by interacting with residents.

In addition, the annual influx of bennies brings revenue to thousands of local business that line the shore as well as towns themselves. According to The Economist, this money is funneled back into the places that locals call home and used to keep up with beach maintenance as well as provide insurance for if a natural disaster does occur.

One example of tourism revenue at work was the massive rebuilding and relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy struck the Jersey Shore in 2012. After power lines fell, homes were flooded, and businesses were destroyed, money from both state and local funds were used to restore shore towns and rebuild the lives of their residents.

According to The Economist, beach tourism generated about $4.6 billion of local and state tax revenues in 2014, and that number has experienced a steady annual increase, assuring that the Jersey Shore would be able to recover if another natural disaster does occur.

Although the migration of beach visitors can crowd New Jersey roadways, bennies play a vital role: financial help to keep locales like delis open, so locals and bennies alike can experience the Jersey Shore signature that is the pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich.