Businesses prepare for influx of visitors as H2Oi kicks off
OCEAN CITY, Md. – Businesses in Ocean City say that H2Oi seems to have gotten a little more tame over the past few years. But that doesn’t mean they’re not being careful and working together when it comes to making sure their guests and patrons are safe. “I think one of the largest concerns is – what does it it do to the normal vacationers? So, when we have families or maybe retired couples,” said Susan Jones with the Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Association.
Jones says some businesses are wary of property damage and unruly behavior. “While they do fill hotel rooms and the restaurants seats, the ones that we tend to have had in the last few years have been very disrespectful of our police and damaging some of the parking lots,” said Jones.
Many H2Oi participants are staying in Ocean City’s hotels. General manager of the Princess Royale Kyle Johnson says he’s not particularly worried about the H2oI impacting them. But he wants to make sure his guests are safe when they go on the streets. “Our hope is that when guests come here to our resort that they look at us as a destination and they stay here and they’re not traveling out there on the roads,” said Johnson.
Johnson says overall, he’s hoping the weekend will go smoothly. But the history of trouble with H2Oi does leave some room for concern. “I think it’s something we have to be cautious of. Just because of the history of the event and what happens in the town and the large police presence that’s involved with it,” said Johnson.
Jones says she’s worried about businesses losing potential future customers. She says she hopes people in town for H2Oi are respectful, so they don’t drive other visitors away. “If they’re here and they happen to be here for this particular weekend, not knowing what could potentially go on, then that may drive them to another city. They may never want to come back to Ocean City,” said Jones.
Jones also says that the HMRA has been working with local hotels to provide police officers from out of town with free hotel rooms. She also says that HMRA is part of Ocean City’s motor event task force, and that they’re working together to make sure this weekend goes smoothly for businesses.
Mayor Rick Meehan says that people visiting Ocean City this weekend should expect heavy traffic and an increased police presence. A special event zone is also in place. That means drivers can expect to see reduced speed limits throughout town and increased fines for violations.