New Jersey officials say tourism was on the rise in the Garden State in 2013, despite the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy along the Jersey Shore.
The tourism industry set a new record in 2013, generating more than $40.4 billion in overall tourism-related demand, while overall visitation rose by 5.9 percent over 2012, to 87.2 million.
“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,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, who unveiled a state tourism report Thursday at the New Jersey Conference on Tourism in Atlantic City.
Despite the overall positive numbers, the lingering effects of Sandy did have an impact on the statistics.
Construction and investment in tourism-specific facilities jumped by 24 percent in 2013 as recovery from Sandy continued, according to the report. Demand for hotel rooms was high during the beginning of 2013 as storm victims were displaced from their homes, but fell significantly by the end of the year.
Shore counties – Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May and Monmouth – experienced a "late summer" as storm recovery and a cool, wet spring held down visitation, the report said.
Spending by tourists rose 1.3 percent, a lower figure than expected, mainly due to the unavailability of second homes and Shore rental properties. The report said about 10 percent of all seasonal homes were affected by the storm, and 5 percent of normally-available second home weeks were unavailable in 2013.
The Shore counties, in which the bulk of the state's tourism industry is located, saw mixed results in terms of sales receipts. Ocean County, the hardest-hit area during Sandy, saw a 2.3 percent decline while Monmouth County experienced a 4.9 percent increase. Cape May County, spared from the level of destruction seen in Ocean County, saw a 2.3 percent increase. Atlantic County was dragged down by a combination of Sandy and continued declines in the casino industry – its receipts fell by 3.2 percent, the largest drop of any county in the state.