A new report finds the Garden State tourism industry had a strong bounce-back summer at the Jersey Shore this year.

“We weren’t expecting this but we had a record tourism result from the shore counties,” New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism Executive Director Jeff Vasser said.

A state Division of Travel and Tourism study shows there was a 71% rise in bed tax revenues and growth from beach tax sales, hotel rooms sold, and total room revenue in the shore communities of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean counties from June 1 to Aug. 31.

Why the big increase in NJ shore tourism?

He said people flocked down the shore for many reasons, including “COVID restrictions were much less this summer than prior years. We were lucky that we had good weather for most of the summer and especially on weekends.”

Jersey Shore Beaches Open For Season On Memorial Day Weekend
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“People were looking for outdoor experiences, people felt the need to be outside, and the Jersey Shore certainly provides all of those great things."

Tourism is key to the NJ economy

He said the tourist rebound was critically important because "tourism is the 6th largest industry measured by employment in the state, so it’s a huge industry for us."

He noted tourism was the hardest hit industry during the pandemic "so for our economy in New Jersey to rebound and recover, tourism has to lead the way."

How NJ is promoting tourism outside the shore

Vasser said the state Division of Travel and Tourism advertising budget for the upcoming 2022 summer season will top $32 million after an increase in state funding and help from the federal government. Efforts will be expanded to attract visitors from other states.

"We want to make the arts and the culture and the restaurants and the wineries and the breweries, the museums as iconic as the Jersey Shore is," he said.

He said the shore is a well-known destination location for visitors but "what we want to do is drive them into other parts of the state which are just as beautiful which offer just as many outdoor attractions as the shore does."

He said roughly 60% of the Jersey Shore visitors this past summer were from different parts of the Garden State and other tourists came from New York, Pennsylvania and other states.

"Typically a New Jersey resident will spend about $73 per day when they travel, but an out-of-state person will spend about $700 dollars a day," said Vasser.

Key findings from the 2021 Summer Tourism Performance Report

Jersey Shore counties experienced significant growth in state bed tax revenue during the summer months of 2021, hitting record levels. Bed taxes collected by the state for the shore counties are projected to reach $19.2 million, an increase of 71% and 22% relative to 2020 and 2019, respectively.

The Shore region was not alone in seeing bed tax gains year-over-year. All 21 of the state’s counties saw significant increases over 2020 with Hudson County growing more than 150%.

Nearly half of the state’s counties saw bed tax increases over 2019 numbers with Sussex County growing nearly 60%.

For the entire state, the New Jersey hotel industry rebounded in the summer of 2021. Rooms sold in 2021 increased by 44.6% versus 2020, while the average daily room rate grew 20.2%. These trends contributed to a 74.8% rise in revenue statewide.

Summer beach tag revenues exceeded pre-pandemic levels in shore counties in 2021, indicating much better performance at the shore. In 2021, for example, Cape May reported a 35% increase in beach tag revenue versus 2019.

For more information on tourism in New Jersey, visit www.visitnj.org.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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