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Special Report: New Jersey Tourism Rises to New Heights

2017 New Jersey Conference on Tourism offered comprehensive industry examination.

The Garden State’s tourism industry has long been a multi-faceted behemoth offering a wide array of opportunities for visitors from both near and afar, and the 2017 New Jersey Conference on Tourism – held these past two days at Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City – underscored these facts.

Adam Sachs, founder and president of Tourism Economics, today told the audience, “[There have been] seven consecutive years of growth for the New Jersey tourism industry.  Last year, there were 98 million visitors including overnight and day visitors; it is a 3.3 percent gain over the prior year. … Of course, spending along with that has increased in step, with $42 billion in visitor spending, last year.”

Sachs revealed that consumers are in stronger financial positions, and this, in turn, helps fuel the tourism industry.  For these and other reasons, he added, “The industry is not only growing relative to the nation, but growing relatively faster than other industries within New Jersey.”

Sachs’ comments dovetailed with those of Governor Kim Guadagno, who attended the conference yesterday. Lt. Governor Guadagno said, “Over the last seven years, as the Lt. Governor and Secretary of State, I’ve traveled hundreds of thousands of miles across this great State seeing the amazing and diverse attractions we have to offer. So, it’s no surprise that the Travel and Tourism Industry had another year of increased growth across all seasons.”

An official statement from New Jersey reads, “New Jersey again set a record in 2016, with the tourism industry accounting for $44.1 billion in economic impact – an increase of more than 2.9 percent over the previous year. This was in part due to an increase in visitation to New Jersey, which increased for the seventh straight year. The number of visitors to New Jersey increased by 3.3 percent last year to 98 million.”

The statement also revealed, “In 2016, the tourism industry directly supported more than 321,231 jobs. When factoring in indirect impacts, more than a half million jobs – or nearly one in 10 of all New Jersey jobs – depended on tourism. The New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism recently released promising numbers from the past year. In 2016, tourism in New Jersey generated $4.9 billion in state and local tax revenues. Without the tourism industry, New Jersey households would each need to pay $1,525 in order to maintain the current level of state and local government services.”

Overall, the conference featured 12 sessions exploring topics ranging from hometown security/homeland security and trends in dining/cuisine/distilleries/wineries/breweries, to how to make destinations more appealing for solo travelers. There also was a lively presentation on management from John Kennedy of John Kennedy Consulting.

While the conference touted New Jersey tourism triumphs as well as a range of trends, it also mentioned a few industry-related concerns, including, but not limited to: the possibly of an economic recession (discussed by John Kennedy yesterday) and the effect national politics/related actions have on United States tourism (addressed by Adam Sachs, this morning).

An upcoming issue of NEW JERSEY BUSINESS magazine will explore New Jersey tourism in-depth via a general article on the conference and a separate story focusing on Destination Marketing Organizations.

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