Tourism spending hit record $46.4B in New Jersey in 2019
POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (AP) — First, the good news: Tourism spending hit a record $46.4 billion in New Jersey last year, as more than 116 million people visited the state known for its beaches, casinos, mountains and cities.
Now the bad news: The coronavirus is likely to take a steep toll on this year’s tourism numbers, as many popular attractions have been closed for months with no clear end in sight.
Figures released Thursday by the state Division of Travel and Tourism showed that the state set records last year in overall tourism spending, which was up nearly 4% from 2018, and visitation, up nearly 5%.
“Whether travelers seek to experience our beaches or our mountains, taste local products at one of our 150-plus breweries and wineries, or enjoy international cuisine at our thousands of locally owned restaurants, New Jersey truly has something for everyone,” said Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the travel and tourism division. “New Jersey is resilient, and we are optimistic that despite the impact of COVID-19, our state will continue to thrive once travel resumes.”
Some key findings of the report:
— Visitor spending generated over $5.1 billion in state and local taxes, equivalent to $1,580 in tax savings for every household in New Jersey.
— It increased by $1.7 billion in 2019 and has grown by nearly $6 billion since 2015.
— It supported 342,937 jobs and nearly $20 billion in state direct gross domestic product in 2019, representing 3.2 percent of the state economy.
—About 26% of each visitor dollar was spent on food and beverages, and 18 cents went to retail shopping.
—Day trips to the state increased to 61.5 million, up from 57.9 million in 2018.
And visitor spending at restaurants and grocery stores increased by 6% in 2019, leading all categories.
The state cautioned that the numbers in Thursday’s report are subject to revision.
Tourism was the sixth leading industry in the state in terms of spending; health care was first.
Part of the increase in tourism spending was a result of the first full year of operation in 2019 of the two newest casinos in Atlantic City, Hard Rock and the Ocean Casino Resort, both of which opened on the same day in June 2018.
Tourism has been greatly reduced since mid-March, when New Jersey instituted travel restrictions and closed down businesses deemed non-essential, including the state’s nine casinos, and most beaches.
The state is considering reopening plans but has set no definitive dates for a large-scale resumption of economic activity.
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