New Jersey has many splendid heritage tourism destinations—such as Cape May, Lambertville and Ellis Island—whose visitors come to experience historic sites as well as natural and cultural offerings. Morristown and other cities have developed and market New Jersey’s military and industrial heritage. Additionally, the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area will encourage tourists to discover Revolutionary New Jersey. National travel trends indicate the economic benefits New Jersey can generate with a strong heritage tourism program.
A 2009 national travel study reveals that 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, translating to 118.3 million adults each year. The economic impact is clear: cultural and heritage travelers spend an average of $994 per trip compared to only $611 for other leisure travelers.
Collectively, cultural heritage travelers contribute more than $192 billion annually to the U.S. economy. New Jersey must tap into this economic opportunity. We propose the formation of a New Jersey Inter-agency Heritage Tourism Council to provide leadership and create a statewide system of partnerships. The council would link state agencies, destination marketing organizations, heritage and cultural organizations, historic sites, communities and other partners to forge a unified approach to heritage tourism development.
By preserving our historic sites and telling the stories of our state’s past, New Jersey will enjoy the rewards of heritage tourism by generating increased revenue as we welcome more visitors. We are asking our legislators to revisit the formulas used to fund tourism, history and the arts through the hotel/motel tax and to invest considerably more in our state’s third largest industry.
All the members of the New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force and I look forward to working with each of you as we make New Jersey a premier heritage tourism destination.
Cathleen R. Litvack
Chair, New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force