Assembly members Diane C. Gove and Chris A. Brown, who both sit on the Tourism and Arts Committee, have introduced a series of bills aimed at promoting and assisting the state?s tourism industry. Tourism is a $38 billion industry and is a key component of New Jersey?s economy. In 2011, its revenue increased just over seven percent from the prior year.

One of the bills authorizes the Division of Travel and Tourism to accept and spend any donation or grant for the purpose of marketing New Jersey tourist attractions, including arts, historical and entertainment venues across the state.

?The series of tourism bills are designed to assist a critical part of our economy by promoting our cultural and natural resources,? said Gove, R-Ocean, Atlantic and Burlington. ?As our economy continues to rebound and consumer confidence improves, we need to capitalize on the assets we possess and encourage people to visit and enjoy New Jersey. Providing opportunities to generate revenues, without relying on additional tax dollars, in order to market this industry is just as important.?

The legislators pointed out that tourism employs over 300,000 people and was responsible for providing $4.4 billion in state and local taxes.

?New Jersey?s tourism industry has a tremendous up-side that still has room to grow,? said Brown, R-Atlantic. ?This package of tourism bills recognizes we are in competition with other states and we need to take advantage of the momentum we achieved last year. Promoting New Jersey as a destination for vacationing or cultural enrichment is something that we must continue to focus on.?

The other measures Gove and Brown have introduced include:

A-2700: promotes the display of brochures and information of tourism attractions within New Jersey at service areas on the Turnpike, Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway.

A-2745: directs Department of Transportation, the Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority to advertise local events and historic sites on variable message signs.

A-2703: establishes the New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund and provides for voluntary contributions by taxpayers on gross income tax returns.

A-2699: permits advertising on Department of Corrections? motor vehicles, similar to that authorized on school buses. Revenues would be used to advertise and promote various tourist destinations and venues.

AJR-59: designates April as ?Tour the Shore? month.

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