TRENTON – The Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono that would establish a task force to develop a plan to strengthen New Jersey’s heritage tourism industry.
“New Jersey is home to a rich historic legacy, from Colonial times to the Revolutionary War all the way through the Industrial Revolution,” said Senator Buono (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Committee. “This task force will explore ways in which we can marry our historic treasures with our tourism industry to make New Jersey a leading destination for heritage tourism.”
Senator Buono’s bill, S-2772, would establish the “New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force.” The task force would develop a heritage tourism master plan with recommendations that would include ways to improve road signage on the State highways directing visitors to sites, methods to improve the efforts of State, county and municipal agencies in focusing more significantly on heritage tourism, and potential sources of stable funding for the improvement and maintenance of historic sites available for heritage tourism.
This bill is a direct result of the concerns and recommendations brought to the Committee at their June 8 hearing on heritage tourism at Walnford Mill in Upper Freehold.
“During our June hearing, it was clear that New Jersey was underutilizing our historic sites when it came to growing our tourism attractions. By properly tapping this unique resource and learning from other successful heritage tourism hot spots, like Philadelphia, we can attract an entirely new group of tourists to New Jersey,” explained Senator Buono.
The task force would additionally oversee a statewide inventory of historic sites available for heritage tourism. The inventory will list most of the historic sites in the State available for heritage tourism with a description of the site and the site’s potential for being part of the state’s heritage tourism industry. The task force would also provide recommendations for how these sites could coordinate with each other to provide more comprehensive and attractive experiences.
“The one suggestion that has been repeatedly brought up is the need for a statewide inventory of historic places,” added Senator Buono. “When this inventory is completed, we will be better prepared to coordinate heritage tourism efforts between sites and to identify sites that need capital improvements in order to be successfully utilized in the State’s heritage tourism efforts.
The task force would be funded by up to $135,000 from the Historic Preservation License Plate Fund and would need to present its findings to the Governor and Legislature within 18 months of its organization.
S-2772 passed the Committee by a vote of 5-0. It now goes to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for their consideration.