Tourism may not be the first thing people think about when it comes to New Jersey’s economy, but it is still a big industry that has an impact in every corner of the state.
Tourism is the lifeblood of thousands of small businesses. On our boardwalks, there are the arcades, the shops and the attractions, and the shore towns themselves are known for their bed and breakfasts and individually owned hotels and motels. And every tourist attraction, regardless of its location, supports restaurants, souvenir shops and other small businesses surrounding them.
For these businesses, issues like increasing the minimum wage or mandating paid sick leave are a matter of survival. NJBIA has argued that increasing the minimum wage too much and too fast would hit shore tourism businesses especially hard because of the large number of minimum-wage workers they hire (many of them students) and the fact that they have only three or four summer months to earn a year’s worth of revenue. Businesses might have to compete with other summertime destinations along the East Coast while paying wages that are twice as high as their competitors.
Likewise, a seasonal business can ill-afford providing paid sick leave to employees. Under legislation introduced last year, seasonal employees could have accumulated enough sick time to miss up to half of their work days. Seasonal small businesses are open only one-third of a year and cannot operate effectively with mandates like these.
Similarly, regulations have a big impact on these small businesses, which makes regulatory reform initiatives particularly important. Expansion and business renovation projects need to be completed before the season opens, so having them bogged down with permit delays is harmful to tourism businesses.
New Jersey also has a rich history that includes Native American archaeological sites, agricultural and industrial building, three centuries of residential buildings, schools and halls, parks and theaters. But it’s the American Revolution that perhaps gives New Jersey its most iconic tourism attractions, including Washington Crossing State Park and the Monmouth Battlefield State Park.
New Jersey should not neglect this important asset. NJBIA supports the “Historic Property Reinvestment Act,” which would provide $50 million in tax credits for the cost of rehabilitating historic properties. It would offer two tax credits for up to 25 percent of the rehabilitation costs: the one for homeowners is capped at $25,000 per property and applies to the gross income tax; the one for businesses is not capped and would be applied against businesses’ corporation business tax and insurance premiums tax liabilities.