Travel and tourism would get $ 25 million boost on bill sent to Murphy

The Legislature sent Governor Phil Murphy a measure that would allow the use of $ 25 million in federal relief funds to help the state’s travel and tourism industries recover from the pandemic next summer .

Under House Bill 5689, the state would set aside $ 5 million for a state-recognized destination marketing organization that promotes all regions of the state. An additional $ 20 million would be used by the state’s Travel and Tourism Division to help “the travel and tourism industry’s economic recovery” after the pandemic, in a non-specific way.

The measure was approved by a 71-1 vote with two abstentions on June 24, and the State Senate by a 39-0 vote on December 20 in a day-long voting session before the lawmakers won’t be set for Christmas.

The promotional campaign would likely mirror the 2013 “Stronger Than The Storm” campaign designed to convince travelers and tourists that the Jersey Shore was open for business following the devastation of Super Storm Sandy in 2012.

This effort also totaled $ 25 million, paid for by federal relief funds. But then-Gov. Chris Christie’s appearance in commercials – especially since it was an election year for him – drew criticism, as did the nature and cost of the contract with public relations firm MWW.

“Travel and tourism is one of the most important employment sectors and the highest income generating industries in New Jersey,” said one of the major sponsors, the Assembly Majority Leader. , Louis Greenwald, D-6th District, in a November release. “It is paramount that we promote the businesses and destinations in our state that have been so negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “

Chrissy Buteas, Director of Government Affairs, New Jersey Business & Industry Association. –

Figures from last May show that visits are down 27% from 2019 and 2020, from 116 million tourists to 86.4 million tourists. Spending fell 37%, from $ 46.4 billion in 2019 to $ 29.4 billion in 2020, marking the end of a decade of growth in the state’s tourism sector after the Great Recession.

“We all know how essential the tourism industry is to the state,” Chrissy Buteas, director of government affairs at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, told lawmakers in November. “Not just the shore, the whole New Jersey tourism industry, the restaurants and not to mention our hotels and the like. We have a large tourism industry in the state.

The bill also makes it compulsory to promote state catering establishments, which have had to operate at reduced capacity for more than a year, including more than three months without a sit-down meal, almost six months without a sit-down meal. inside and over a year. without seats on the bar side.

Business owners and others related to the tourism and travel industries said they believed that while last summer’s season would be better than 2020, they didn’t expect it to be. surpasses 2019 levels, widely regarded as a record breaking season.

Summer tourism has actually rebounded this year, according to a report released by the Travel and Tourism Division earlier in December. Counties along the coast fared better than those dependent on indoor activities, according to the study. Tourist taxes collected by the state in Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean counties are expected to reach $ 19.2 million in 2021, an increase of 71% and 22% from 2020 and 2019, respectively . Summer beach label sales also exceeded 2019 levels. Cape May’s 2021 revenue was up 35% from 2019, while Ocean City posted a 4.5% increase.

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