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NJBIA testified in support of legislation that would use $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to help New Jersey’s tourism industry recover from devastating economic losses caused by the pandemic and bring back visitors whose spending supports businesses, jobs, and the state and local economies.

NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas testified Monday before the Senate State Government, Waging, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee in support of A-5689/S-3830, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6) and Senator James Beach (D-6). The committee voted unanimously to release the bill.

“Prior to the pandemic, New Jersey generated more than $5 billion in state and local tax revenue from tourism annually,” Buteas said. “When COVID-19 caused the closure of some businesses, limited travel, and discouraged visitors, state and local tax revenue derived from tourism fell approximately 21% between 2019 and 2020.”

In addition to tax revenue, New Jersey derives significant economic benefits from tourism spending that supports businesses, jobs, and local economies, but the pandemic significantly curtailed the number of visitors to the Garden State, Buteas said.

“While New Jersey welcomed 84.6 million visitors in 2020, that was 27% fewer than the previous year, and visitor spending fell to its lowest level in more than a decade,” Buteas said.

Under the bill, $25 million from the federal “Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund,” would be appropriated to the Department of State to help the travel and tourism industry recover. Of that, $5 million would be used to market all regions of the state and work cooperatively with the State’s overall marketing campaign.

The remaining $20 million would be used to help industries and destinations in New Jersey that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as food and liquor establishments.