2011 saw a spike in spending, encouraging marketing efforts statewide.
ATLANTIC CITY – New Jersey’s $38 billion tourism business – the state’s third-largest industry – may be back on a roll after posting a 7 percent revenue increase in 2011 over the year before.
And the particularly warm winter, which has attracted throngs of out-of-season visitors to the Jersey Shore, may extend the upward trend into the 2012 summer season, officials predict.
That dose of optimism, after relatively flat tourism numbers between 2008 and 2010, came in a keynote address by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno at the three-day 2012 New Jersey Tourism Industry Association conference last week at the Golden Nugget.
The figures posted Thursday represent visitor expenditures just shy of the all-time state high of $39.5 billion in 2007, Guadagno said, even counting last year’s pre-Labor Day weekend evacuation of millions of Shore tourists under the threat of Hurricane Irene. Shore tourism, including Atlantic City gaming, accounts for a significant portion of New Jersey’s annual vacation dollars.
“Who can forget the governor making national headlines with ‘Get the hell off the beach.’ Forty-eight hours later we told them to ‘get the hell back on the beach’ because it was Labor Day weekend,” Guadagno said.
She tempered her humorous remarks by recalling the day soon after taking office two years ago when she made the grim announcement that the state would cut more than $2 million in tourism promotion funding.
But all that has changed. This year the state has committed $2.7 million for a spring/summer marketing campaign like “nothing anyone has seen before,” she said.
In a newly formed alliance with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which will now handle the state’s tourism promotion, Guadagno promised Shore promoters “a seat at the table” for planning around events such as the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford or Wrestlemania.
“Tourism is a critical economic engine for New Jersey. Clearly 2011 was a good year for New Jersey’s tourism industry,” Guadagno said. “By working together we can build on last year’s success and strengthen our reputation as a premier travel destination.”
The warm weather seems to have lent a hand to that work this winter.
The months leading up to summer traditionally are a quiet time at the Shore, when year-round residents and businesses spruce up for the coming season when they can amid sporadic weather