The unofficial start of the summer season has arrived with Memorial Day just around the corner. The New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism’s informal survey of tourism industry insiders suggests that rentals have been strong, bookings for hotels and other accommodations are surging, campsite reservations are full and attractions are prepared to greet summer visitors.
Nancy Byrne, executive director of the NJ Department of State’s Division of Travel & Tourism predicts the summer tourism season is going to be a big hit. “As we head into summer 2008, there are many interesting dynamics to factor into the season, especially higher gas prices. In New Jersey’s case, we are just a tank of gas away from major consumer markets and we believe people will still travel to the Garden State for that summer shore getaway.”
County and local tourism officials also express a positive outlook for summer 2008. Officials in Monmouth County report that travelers are staying closer to home this season and are requesting information for day trips and long weekends, instead of seven or ten day vacations. They also report an increasing trend of people making last minute decisions when it comes to reserving beach house rentals.
Cape May representatives report an increase in web site hits and inquiries from upstate New York, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and Ohio markets. A high volume of inquiries from the Canadian market is also prevalent. Campgrounds across the state are nearly booked for the season and the substantial increase in Canadian reservations is still going strong.
In Ocean City, rental reservations are steadily increasing and a loyal customer base continues to return yearly from the Greater Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey and New York markets. Tourism officials also mention the use of the Internet as the main resource to make plans and request information
A strong tourism industry is vital to economic growth in New Jersey. In 2007 alone, revenues grew by 5.8% to $38 billion as visitation also rose a healthy 5.8%, from 71 million visitors to 75.2 million, driven by a 15.2% growth in overnight stays.
According to AAA projections, about 37.87 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles from home this Memorial Day weekend. In New Jersey, it is estimated that almost 1.5 million Garden State residents will travel more than 50 miles from home this weekend. According to Byrne, “We expect that people will continue to travel throughout the summer season, even with higher gas prices. The travel trend will be for fewer days and
discretionary incomes will be used more wisely when seeking dining and accommodation alternatives.”
The Travel Industry Association of America reports that Americans are expected to take more than 327 million leisure trips during June, July and August of 2008. They also expect travelers to be more cost-conscious in their travel decisions this summer and that they will be attracted by special offers, gas rebate programs and other incentives that destinations and travel companies around the country are now beginning to offer.
What will be attracting visitors this year? “Plenty of new and improved tourism attractions to suit every taste in every region,” added Byrne. “New Jersey is home to some of the best recreational, historical and cultural activities along the East Coast and visitors can discover our Jersey Gems while getting away without going too far away.”
For more events and attractions, as well as trip planning assistance and lodging listings, go to http://www.visitnj.org.