New Jersey’s tourism business rose 1.3 percent to a record $40.4 billion in 2013 as visitors chose northern attractions over shore areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Revenue in Ocean and Atlantic counties, the state’s two biggest tourism markets, dropped 2.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, according to a report by Tourism Economics of Wayne, Pennsylvania. Spending was less because of a 5.9 percent decline in casino win at Atlantic City resorts and widespread damage to coastal homes that are rented to vacationers.
The state drew a record 87.2 million visitors, or 5.5 percent more than in 2012. Republican Governor Chris Christie, 51, used $25 million in federal Sandy relief funds for a “Stronger Than the Storm” tourism campaign in which he and his family encouraged visitors to return after the October 2012 hurricane. Spending on the spots, shown as Christie was running for re-election, are the subject of a review by the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Morris County, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of New York City, led tourism growth, with a 6.9 percent sales increase over 2012. The area is home to Revolutionary War sites and also draws visitors to its parks, lakes and bed and breakfasts. Sussex, Hudson, Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties also saw more tourists.
Visitors to New Jersey will increase this year to more than 89 million as the recovery continues, Tourism Economics predicted.