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Guadagno: N.J. tourism industry hit record-high in 2013

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Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagna announced N.J. tourism hit record-high in 2013.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagna announced N.J. tourism hit record-high in 2013. - (File photo)

New Jersey's tourism industry generated a record-high of more than $40 billion in overall related demand last year, representing a 1.3 percent increase from 2012, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno announced Thursday.

The state also saw a 5.9 percent increase in visitors from 2012, welcoming 87.2 million across 2013.

"Today's numbers reaffirm the incredible resilience shown by New Jersey's tourism industry and the commitment of our visitors, who continue to demonstrate their support by vacationing at our great tourist destinations after Sandy," Guadagno said Thursday at a tourism conference in Atlantic City. "The performance of our tourism industry is integral to the overall health of our state's economy. To achieve this record progress is so encouraging for the future as New Jersey is well-positioned to build on this success entering the important spring and summer months."

Guadagno noted that for the third straight year, the state has also seen growth in tourism employment, accounting for just over 320,000 directly-related jobs in 2013. Adding indirectly-related tourism jobs to the mix, the number totals more than 500,000, making up roughly 10 percent of all of New Jersey's jobs.

"The impact that visitor spending has on creating jobs and essential tax revenue for so many communities statewide cannot be overstated," Guadagno said. "We look forward to further assisting more tourism-related businesses grow and in doing so, continue to promote the diversity of venues and destinations available to all visitors."

The state has already launched its new "Going Strong" ad campaign in an effort to continue to drive tourism numbers.

Last year's "Stronger than the Storm" tourism ad campaign, anchored by a commercial featuring Gov. Chris Christie and his family, has been heavily criticized by some who question the appropriateness of the governor appearing in taxpayer-funded ads during an election year and others who claim the process for awarding the contract was tainted.

At a town hall Thursday in Flemington, Christie said he's making "no apologies" for the ad campaign as the newly released numbers indicate its success.

"It was effective," Christie said. "It worked."

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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