Monmouth County – and New Jersey as a whole – is well-known for its summertime appeal but those who live here know just how much there is to do and see throughout the entire year. Home to many historical sites and famous landmarks, as well as charming downtowns complete with theaters, art galleries and more, Monmouth County serves as the perfect place to escape for a weekend getaway or vacation for both domestic and international visitors.
As the liaison to the Monmouth County Division of Tourism, I know just how important the industry is. In Monmouth County alone, tourism is a $2.5 billion industry that is responsible for more than 30,000 jobs. The tourism industry in New Jersey as a whole serves as an important part of our State’s economy and we need to make sure it continues to grow.
Monmouth County and many tourism partners, including the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, work to promote year-round tourism initiatives by highlighting destinations and activities to do when the weather gets cooler. Such promotions highlight activities such as hiking the trails in one of our beautiful Monmouth County Park System locations or fishing at one of our many lakes, rivers or shoreline. We also work with our local tourism partners to showcase festivals and events that can draw visitors to the area at a time they may not regularly visit. Year-round tourism promotion also includes highlighting destinations that are nationally known, such as the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
New Jersey is such a popular place to visit that millions of domestic and international travelers visit our state each year and their spending contributes billions to our economy. But how do international visitors know about destinations to visit in New Jersey? The answer is a little-known public-private partnership called Brand USA.
This organization was created by Congress in 2009 to help draw international visitors to towns and cities across the United States and has been instrumental in creating greater economic output from these tourists. Since 2013, Brand USA’s marketing efforts generated $47.7 billion in total economic impact, $6.2 billion in federal, state, and local taxes, and supported nearly 52,000 incremental jobs each year in the United States.
In New Jersey, Brand USA collaborates with several local tourism organizations, which allows the nationwide public-private partnership to effectively market many of New Jersey’s new attractions.
The most recent study from Brand USA revealed that 98 million visitors, domestic and international, traveled to New Jersey in 2016 due to its marketing efforts and spent $20.8 billion during their stay. This generated $3.6 billion in tax revenue that year which equals a little more than $1,500 per household in the state. On top of all that, the public-private partnership supported over 200,000 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The best part of this partnership is that Brand USA provides all these great economic rewards while costing the taxpayer zero dollars. Instead, it’s funded in part by a $14 fee paid by international tourists through the Visa Waiver Program and in part by private businesses that benefit from tourism.
Even though Brand USA’s initiatives do not need taxpayer money, the organization does have to be reauthorized by Congress every few years because it was Congress that created Brand USA. Unfortunately, this year this beneficial tourism organization is at risk of losing its funding. As such, I ask that our Congressional representatives support Brand USA in order to continue the push to promote Monmouth County and New Jersey as a year-round destination.