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Senator Buono Testifies At First Public Meeting Of Heritage Tourism Task Force

Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, listens to testimony during a budget hearing in the Statehouse.

TRENTON –Statement submitted on behalf of Senator Barbara Buono at the first public meeting today of the Heritage Tourism Task Force. Senator Buono sponsored the law which created the task force.

“Tourism in New Jersey is multi-billion dollar industry. Generating more than $37 billion in spending last year alone, and creating nearly 500,000 jobs, the tourism industry stimulates a wide array of economic sectors. Historic preservation has widely acknowledged cultural and aesthetic benefits, but less known and appreciated are preservation’s significant economic effects. Heritage Tourism can help to build a sense of community and enhance economic development through added employment, economic activity, and tax revenue.

As the Chair of the Senate Wagering and Tourism Committee, and the sponsor of S-2772 which established today’s Task Force, I fully understand and appreciate the importance of tourism to the health of New Jersey’s economy. Tourism and especially heritage tourism are growing industries that consistently generate jobs and help to fund vital government programs. If tourism didn’t exist, each New Jersey Household would pay an additional $1,368 in taxes in order to maintain current revenue levels. And, for every million dollars invested in heritage tourism, between 50 and 250 jobs are created.

In order to realize these economic effects, we need to not only invest in preservation, but also in public education and awareness. Public awareness campaigns are essential to ensuring public and private financial support for the preservation of historic sites and to developing new generations of enthusiasts. I am proud to recognize the Division of Travel and Tourism in the Department of State’s many efforts at achieving these ends. The Division has in fact already begun a new advertising campaign aimed at promoting lesser known cultural and historic tourism destinations.

As a state we are fortunate to have such a rich historical legacy to showcase. From Colonial times to the Revolutionary War, all the way through the Industrial Revolution, New Jersey has innumerable sites with historic significance. And our history is filled with firsts.

* We were the first state to sign and ratify the bill of rights.

* The first intercollegiate college football game was played in New Jersey between Rutgers and Princeton.

* The world’s first boardwalk was built in Atlantic City.

* The first American flag was designed here, the first incandescent light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture were invented here, and the first brewery in America opened in Hoboken.

But in order to promote these destinations effectively, New Jersey needs the leadership of the Heritage Tourism Task Force. The Task Force will be essential to maintaining these historic sites and to ensuring their future viability as worthy vacation destinations. By establishing inventories of the state’s recognized historic sites, enhancing coordination between state and local government units in order to renew focus on heritage tourism, identifying stable funding sources, and by developing a state master plan, the efforts of the Task Force will truly bring the State’s tourism campaign to fruition, and will ensure that generations to come can appreciate their significance.”

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