Tourism is a $34.7 billion industry in New Jersey, making it seven percent of the state economy, according to an annual look at Garden State tourism conducted by Tourism Economics. When including both direct and indirect “impacts,” tourism was responsible for $4.5 billion in state and local taxes and $5.1 billion in federal taxes in 2012.
The Christie administration is touting a 4.8 percent increase in domestic visits to New Jersey -- to 82.5 million, the highest since 2007. Hotel demand grew by 5.8 percent and overall hotel revenue by 9.2 percent.
However, a closer look at that number reveals a lot of that growth was post-Sandy last October, when an influx of aid workers, utility crews, and FEMA-adjusted inflated room revenues and increased demand for rooms in what is a typically slow season in Shore areas. Nevertheless, Sandy had a negative impact on Atlantic City casinos, which saw a 28 percent drop in revenues during November, the largest single drop in 34 years.
The report expects modest tourism growth through 2015. New Jersey’s tourism is almost entirely domestic driven (87.5 percent) and projected to reach 90 million over the next three years. A slowly recovering domestic economy combined with damage to infrastructure due to Sandy should limit but continue the industry on a growth path, according to the report.