Tourism Revenue in New Jersey Increases in '96 to $24.6 Billion

By Matthew Allan

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Everyone in this city is looking for his or her number to come up.

The New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism recently emerged as a big winner at the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism, held at the Trump Taj Mahal.

Revenue figures for New Jersey tourism in 1996 showed increases nearly across the board. Revenue rose to $24.6 billion, up from $23.4 billion in 1995.

The jump was a direct result of a 9.9% increase in the number of overnight visitors to the Garden State.

More than 584,000 jobs were supported by the tourism industry in 1996, an increase of more than 8,000 jobs from the prior year.

Five of New Jersey's six tourism regions had improved revenues last year, with only the shore region showing a slight decrease.

New Jersey's governor Christine Whitman was particularly pleased that the return on taxes per dollar invested in advertising rose from $22 in 1995 to $30 in 1996.

The governor also touched upon one of the hot topics of the conference: the launch of a multicultural tourism program.

According to Whitman, "The goals are to reach the promising business and leisure markets of our ethnic communities, promote the history and culture of these communities and, in the process, create minority-owned businesses as well as expanded tourism revenues."

The multicultural market largely is untapped in New Jersey. A panel agreed that increasing meetings and conventions business would in turn lead to more leisure bookings in the multicultural segment.

Focus groups are being organized to assess cultural tastes and biases as they relate to tourism in New Jersey.

The Division of Travel and Tourism's new advertising campaign also was unveiled at the conference. The ads highlight the state's diversity and are designed to increase the more than half-million annual inquiries from visitors.

The three-day tourism event was sponsored jointly by the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism and New Jersey Travel Industry Association.

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