TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey’s tourism industry is on the rebound with tourists spending $38 billion on their visits to the Garden State in 2011, according to figures released today at the New Jersey Conference on Tourism. The new visitor expenditures are just shy of the all-time high of $39.5 billion reached in 2007 and are a 7 percent increase over 2010 figures, further indicating that the New Jersey Comeback is taking hold in vital sectors of the state economy.
“This report is great economic news for New Jersey and another indication that the New Jersey Comeback has begun,” said Governor Chris Christie. “These results give us a solid foundation to build upon as we move forward with a common sense and comprehensive plan to strengthen our tourism promotion activities. Along with our efforts to revitalize and invest in Atlantic City, the steps we have taken will have a positive and lasting impact on economic growth for New Jersey over the long run.”
In 2011, domestic visits to New Jersey jumped 14.6 percent, representing an increase in domestic trip volume from roughly 68 million visitors in 2010 to 80 million visitors in 2011. Out-of-state visitors, which drive New Jersey tourism revenue, accounted for 64 percent of all tourism revenue, followed by resident/in-state (25 percent), and international visitors (9 percent).
Equally important, tourism-related employment began to recover in 2011, directly supporting 312,000 jobs and $9.56 billion in wages and salaries last year. When combined with indirect and induced jobs, the total climbs to 486,000, or nearly 10 percent of all New Jersey jobs.
“Tourism is a critical economic engine for New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “It is an industry that continues to contribute significantly to the health of our communities by creating jobs and tax revenue. Clearly, 2011 was a good year for New Jersey's tourism industry. By working together, we can build on last year’s success and strengthen our reputation as a premier travel destination.”
Strengthening New Jersey’s Tourism Efforts with a New Role for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority
Governor Christie today also endorsed the recommendations of the New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Advisory Commission to strengthen the state’s tourism promotion efforts. The recommendations, detailed in a report released today, outlined a series of common sense and aggressive reforms to streamline and centralize the state’s patchwork of entities responsible for tourism promotion and advance and better promote New Jersey’s tourism industry.
The report calls for a reinvigorated and consolidated structure of all current government tourism promotion activities or operations under a realigned New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) dedicated to advancing New Jersey tourism, entertainment and sports. These recommendations acknowledge the significance of this industry to New Jersey’s economy by elevating the promotion of travel and tourism to a similar level of importance as other economic development efforts initiated by the Christie Administration, such as drawing businesses to New Jersey and retaining those that are already here.
“Today, our ability to effectively promote New Jersey as the premier tourism destination it is remains held back by a scattered and sprawling patchwork of programs and activities inside and outside of state government,” said Governor Christie. “By consolidating these operations under the umbrella of the NJSEA, we are taking an aggressive and common sense approach that recognizes and prioritizes the important role of tourism promotion in our economy. Not only will this model mirror successes seen in other states and New York City, it will streamline and simplify tourism entities for visitors, save money for taxpayers, and provide a foundation to strengthen the tourism industry in a strategic and long-term way.”
The report, “Elements of a Plan for the Creation of a Structure to Better Promote Tourism in the State of New Jersey,” builds on the reorganization plan outlined by Governor Christie in his Fiscal Year 2013 Budget proposal to better coordinate efforts to promote New Jersey as a tourism destination.
The Christie Administration has placed a strong focus on economic development and job creation in the state, improving marketing and outreach efforts to attract businesses to New Jersey, while also successfully attracting premier sports and entertainment events to the state. Under the Christie Administration, New Jersey has successfully pursued and secured itself as the host of Grand Prix Auto Racing, WWE’s WrestleMania, the U.S. Special Olympics and the Super Bowl – all in the next 24 months.
Going further with these efforts, the NJSEA will operate statewide as the lead agency to facilitate and attract major sports and entertainment events, overcoming the challenges posed by a disjointed organization structure for the state’s tourism-related activities. Its main focus will no longer be on building venues or facility management, but on coordinating economic development and promotional efforts related to tourism, entertainment and sports.
The new NJSEA will be relocated from the Department of Community Affairs to the Department of State, where it will work in close collaboration with the Business Action Center and the Office of Foreign Investment and Protocol. Also proposed is the relocation of the Division of Travel and Tourism and the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission to the NJSEA.
The Advisory Commission’s Key Recommendations are as follows: