New Jersey Tourism Industry Association (NJTIA) held their annual Advocacy Day event online May 6 in honor of National Travel & Tourism Week. Held via zoom, NJTIA continued this important tradition recognizing the impact tourism has as one of the leading industries within the Garden State. The event opened with a welcome message from Gov. Phil Murphy, tourism marketing remarks from Jeff Vasser, director of NJ Division of Travel & Tourism, important statistics from Tourism Economics representative Chris Pike, COVID-19 updates from Dr. Meg Fisher, special assistant, New Jersey Commissioner of Health, and legislative news from NJTIA President Adam Perle.
Hundreds of industry leaders tuned in to hear much anticipated state tourism numbers for 2020. “New Jersey’s tourism is vital to our state’s overall economy, and our industry has been devastated by the pandemic,” stated Perle. “Today NJTIA’s members gathered in representation of all facets of the tourism industry including statewide trade associations, destination marketing organizations, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, corporations, independent businesses, and non-profit organizations. Collectively we urge our elected officials to continue and expand their support of the tourism industry to ensure a full and robust recovery.”
The state struggled under restrictions due to the pandemic, with records showing visitation at 84.6 million. This number shows a decrease of 27%, putting the state into 2012 levels of travel. Visitor spending also fell 36.8% to a level last seen during the 2009 recession citing pandemic closures and capacity limitation weighed heavily on spending. Despite the closures and limitations, 2020 visitors spent $29.4 billion within New Jersey on lodging, food & beverage, retail, recreation and transportation. Tourism continued to support 393,135 jobs when indirect and induced impacts were considered, which represents 7% of all jobs in the state representing 1 out of every 14 jobs. All counties throughout the state showed a decrease in visitors with Cape May and Ocean Counties being the least effected and Morris and Mercer witnessing the highest loss. A question and answer session with panelists completed the morning presentation.
“Although 2020 was an anomaly, the New Jersey tourism industry is looking forward to a comeback in 2021,” stated Joann DelVescio, NJTIA Advocacy Committee chairwoman. “The tourism industry is ready to welcome back visitors to New Jersey and have them experience all that our great state has to offer.” NJTIA continues to take the lead on important issues such as the hiring crisis currently affecting the hospitality industry. President Adam Perle announced that a task force has been established to work with legislators in finding solutions to address this statewide emergency.
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