ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- It took seven months, but most people now realize the Atlantic City boardwalk was not destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
The latest round of survey figures released by city tourism leaders show that nationwide, only 15 percent of respondents think the boardwalk was destroyed. That's down from 41 percent right after the storm.
In the Northeast, only 14 percent believe the boardwalk was ruined, down from 53 percent right after the Oct. 29 storm.
The Atlantic City Alliance, the new marketing arm of the casino resort, has been doing online surveys since the storm hit. The first two rounds found many people wrongly believed Atlantic City's boardwalk was gone.
In fact, only a small section of previously damaged walkway, which was already slated for demolition and located well away from the casinos, came down in the storm.
The Alliance's first survey, in November, found 41 percent of respondents thought the Boardwalk had been destroyed.
A follow-up survey in January found some improvement, but still found 25 percent of respondents wrongly thought Atlantic City's boardwalk was gone.
Due to Sandy's track, Atlantic City suffered minimal damage and reopened for business five to seven days after the storm. The livelihoods of more than 40,000 employees in 12 casinos, plus hospitality industry workers at businesses catering to the tourism industry, all depend on a strong visitor base.
Since the storm, the Alliance, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the City of Atlantic City, the casino industry and others have launched marketing campaigns and have created boardwalk-centric events to spread the word that the boardwalk is open and unharmed.
The most recent survey was done from May 17 to 20, right in the midst of a massive $25 million ad campaign New Jersey had launched. The ads prominently featured Gov. Chris Christie, who spent much of last week visiting shore towns and attending ribbon cuttings at other boardwalks' re-opening ceremonies to spread the word that the Jersey shore is open and ready for summer tourism.
Wayne Parry can be reached at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC