Assembly Tourism and the Arts Committee Chair Matthew Milam hosted a hearing today to discuss the upcoming 2013 tourism season in light of Hurricane Sandy, including the rebuilding process and current and upcoming tourism marketing efforts.
Milam is a co-sponsor of legislation (A-3630) that he hopes to see advance soon, which would appropriate $20 million to the Department of State for travel and tourism advertising and promotion to communicate that New Jersey’s tourism destinations are operational despite damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
“One of the biggest misperceptions post-Sandy is that our shore businesses are completely shut down, when in fact many were back up and running a week after the storm. Given the billions of dollars generated by our tourism industry every year, this is a relatively minor investment well worth making.
“Now is the time when people start booking their summer rentals so we need to get the word out as soon as possible that the Jersey Shore is in fact open for business. Focusing on increasing overnight stays is also key because it will help generate additional revenue through the occupancy tax. With Memorial Day only a few months away, this legislation is time-sensitive and in the best interest of helping our shore communities get firmly back on their feet.
“As we heard from representatives from Cape May County, many people have been misled to believe our shore towns are completely shut down. While some communities have a longer road to recovery, that’s simply not the case in many others.
“When you couple Sandy’s wrath with the fact that many of our shore communities face inordinately high unemployment rates in the off-season, anything we can do to boost tourism in New Jersey is crucial. I plan to meet with state tourism officials later this week after they regrettably declined to come today. It’s incumbent upon the administration to get the word out throughout the world that much of the Jersey Shore is open for business,” said Milam (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland).