Phil Murphy
Tahesha Way
Secretary of State

May 06, 2021
Contact: Emel Crawford
Press Office: 609.292.7138

New Jersey’s 2020 Tourism Data Reflects the Resiliency of the State’s Food, Beverage and Lodging Sectors During Sizeable Pandemic Year Losses

Amid Steep Declines in Visitor Volume, Spending and Sector Jobs due to COVID-19, the Garden State’s Food, Beverage and Lodging Categories, Buoyed by Rental-Home Markets, Offered Cumulative Economic Benefits with an Overall Forecast for Multiyear Recovery

  TRENTON, N.J, May 6, 2021 / — The New Jersey Department of Travel and Tourism (NJTT) today released the tourism figures for 2020 at the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association’s (NJTIA) 2021 virtual Advocacy Day, held annually during National Travel and Tourism Week, with a purpose this year to celebrate the power and promise of travel in our state’s economic recovery efforts.  

Wide-reaching Economic Impacts
New Jersey welcomed a total of 86.4 million visitors in 2020, down 27% from a record-breaking high of 116 million in 2019, according to the “2020 Economic Impact of Tourism in New Jersey Study,” prepared by Tourism in Economics. Total spending by visitors to the state in 2020 topped $29.4 billion, a decrease of 37% from 2019’s high of $46.4 billion, quelling New Jersey’s decade-long annual surge in tourism growth since the 2009 recession.

While closings, restrictions and travel limitations due to the pandemic throughout 2020 played a significant role in these findings, visitors spending in 2020 supported 236,000 state jobs, down 31% from 2019, generating $4 billion in state and local tax revenue. Such revenue resulted in a tax savings of $1,200 per New Jersey household, down $380 from 2019, making it a relevant contribution for Garden State residents and businesses.

“While 2020 was a difficult year for New Jersey with constrictions in spending in all major tourism categories, there were bright spots of hope that we witnessed retain a sound footing, despite the pandemic. Our food and beverage sector saw over $8 billion in traveler-associated sales, while lodging, rallied by the summer shore rental-home market that extended well into the fall months, generated $7.7 billion in sales,” said NJTT Executive Director Jeff Vasser. “Specifically, our coastal communities and counties with open spaces mitigated economic losses far better than those where social distancing was not as feasible.”

Looking Ahead: 2021 and Beyond
NJTT expects that tourism will continue to improve moving forward, and industry market indicators point toward a robust and pent-up demand for travel. “New Jersey, in particular, is a drive market destination, offering the beauty of our national scenic byways that stretch across beaches, wine trails, lakes, mountains and campgrounds, as well as historic battlegrounds, thrilling amusement parks and vibrant casinos,” said NJTT Executive Director Jeff Vasser.  “New Jersey is simply a tank-of-gas away from one-third of the nation’s population, making its attractions ideally accessible throughout the road to recovery that lies ahead.”

Market and modeling research conducted by Oxford Economics, in coordination with Tourism Economics, forecasts that domestic travel restrictions will begin to loosen in summer 2021 with international borders opening by the end of 2021. New Jersey’s 2021 visitation forecast is predicted to boom 18% with 100 million person-trips in the year and visitor spending surging 23% to $36 million. Visitation is forecasted to recover in the state to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 with the year 2024 marking the milestone of 120 million visitors in New Jersey.  

“I know that as we emerge from this pandemic, the people of New Jersey will continue to step up in support of our communities and welcome visitors back to the Garden State,” said New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. “Tourism is an important part of our state’s economy, and we look forward to sharing New Jersey’s one-of-kind attractions, hidden gems, cultural landmarks, and more, as we help this industry reach great heights again.”
Additional Takeaways from the 2020 Study

  • Tourism attributed $16 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, representing 2.4% of the state economy.
  • Visitor spending supported one out of every 24 jobs in the state, making travel and tourism the No.12 largest state employer; the sector ranked No.6 in 2019.
  • Visitation in 2020 fell to 2012 levels in New Jersey.
  • The largest visitor spending category was food and beverage, accounting for $8.3 billion or 28% of visitor spending in 2020.
  • The second largest visitor spending category was lodging, accounting for $7.7 billion or 26.1% of visitor spending in 2020.
  • Download the “2020 Economic Impact of Tourism in New Jersey Study,” prepared by Tourism Economics.

About New Jersey
New Jersey provides a wide variety of experiences to visitors all year long. Travelers can enjoy outdoor adventures, renowned culinary offerings, educational opportunities, and a strong arts and cultural scene. With numerous state and national parks, beaches, skiing, tax-free shopping, historic sites, museums and more, New Jersey blends together its rich history and exciting present. Home to the nation’s first beach resorts and the birthplace of major inventions, New Jersey offers picturesque escape opportunities for all ages. For more information, explore Follow the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for more events and news throughout the state.