Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Defends 'Stronger Than the Storm'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Defends 'Stronger Than the Storm'

Article excerpt

Governor Christie dismissed criticism of a $25 million advertising campaign promoting the Jersey Shore - one that prominently featured him and his family while he was running for reelection - saying Thursday that the effort contributed to record tourism dollars last year.

On Thursday, his administration said the tourism industry contributed $40.4 billion to the state's economy in 2013 -- a 1.3 percent increase from the previous year. The state logged 87.2 million people as visitors, according to an Economic Impact and Tourism Report released by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno at a tourism conference in Atlantic City.

Guadagno said in a statement that the numbers "reaffirm the incredible resilience shown by New Jersey's tourism industry."

Among the findings of the report was that the tourism industry "proved to be resilient" despite the effects of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, a cooler than normal spring and a partial federal government shutdown.

The travel and tourism industry supported 320,238 jobs while employment exceeded 500,000 when combined with indirect and induced jobs, the report found. However, it's not clear whether the jobs included those of contractors and construction crews repairing homes and businesses.

It's also unknown in the report whether the amount of money generated in tourism dollars include funds that towns spent on infrastructure projects such as boardwalks or the rebuilding of beach patrol headquarters.

The report also pointed out that $4.6 billion in state and local taxes and $5.2 billion in federal taxes were generated last year.

Guadagno said tourism accounted for $40.4 billion in economic activity last year, topping the previous record of nearly $40 billion set in 2012.

Her claim contradicts statements made last month by Michele Brown, the state economic development chief, at hearings on Sandy relief aid. Brown said 2013's tourism numbers were slightly below the 2012 figure.

Virginia Pellerin, a spokeswoman for the Economic Development Authority, said the report Guadagno cited Thursday contains new data that were not available earlier in the year. …

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