On August 24, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy took a significant step to boost tourism in Central New Jersey by signing S3206 into law. This legislation mandates the Division of Travel and Tourism, a branch within the Department of State, to revise the State tourism map to incorporate a dedicated “Central Jersey” region. The new region will encompass the counties of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset, forming a hub of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. This move aims to promote Central Jersey in all marketing campaigns, including publications and the official tourism website, VistiNJ.org.
During the signing ceremony at the Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Site in Somerville, Governor Murphy expressed his excitement about settling the long-standing debate surrounding Central Jersey’s existence. He emphasized the region’s rich history, dating back to the American Revolution, with esteemed figures like George Washington. Additionally, Governor Murphy highlighted Central Jersey’s status as a home to leading public universities and its stunning agricultural landscapes that provide numerous activities for tourists to indulge in. He expressed hope for the opportunity to showcase these wonders to the world.
New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way echoed Governor Murphy’s sentiments, emphasizing the significance of this development for residents and visitors alike. Way emphasized the importance of tourism in bolstering the state’s economy and supporting local small businesses. This legislation represents an investment in the future of Central Jersey communities, strengthening their ability to attract both new and returning guests.
The bill will officially take effect after a 90-day period from its enactment. It was primarily sponsored by Senator Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Roy Freiman. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, a strong proponent of promoting all regions of the state, expressed enthusiasm for the potential economic growth and job creation brought about by attracting tourism to Central Jersey.
Senator Zwicker, a driving force behind the legislation, acknowledged the debates surrounding Central Jersey’s existence for the past 235 years. He emphasized the necessity of designating Central Jersey as a hub of innovation, history, and tourism. Zwicker encouraged travelers to explore the region’s river towns, canal villages, walking sites, harvest festivals, breweries, and extensive Revolutionary War sites, all of which contribute to Central Jersey’s fantastic visitor experiences.
Senator Bob Smith conveyed his belief in Central Jersey’s unique offerings, encompassing cultural, historical, agricultural, artistic, and eco-tourism experiences rivaling those found anywhere else in the country. Smith emphasized the importance of promoting Central Jersey as both a journey and a destination, allowing its hidden gems to finally shine.
Echoing these sentiments, Assemblyman Freiman stressed the need to address Central Jersey’s historical oversight and highlighted the vital role of travel and tourism as an economic engine for the state. He called for a recalibration of tourism regions, exploring new funding mechanisms, and embracing agritourism to showcase not only New Jersey’s world-famous attractions but also its hidden gems.
Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer reiterated the vast array of tourism destinations Central Jersey has to offer, appealing to visitors interested in history, wildlife, and the great outdoors. This legislation promises to provide a significant boost to local economies while further solidifying New Jersey’s position as a premier tourist destination.
Lastly, Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli emphasized the integral role of travel in New Jersey’s economy. Through encouraging overnight tourism and delineating tourism regions with an updated map, Verrelli believes the state can foster growth within the industry, generating new employment opportunities for its residents.
With Governor Murphy’s official signature, the legislation designating Central Jersey as a dedicated tourism region brings new hope and excitement to the historically overlooked heart of the state. As the revised State tourism map takes shape, Central Jersey’s cultural, historical, and natural treasures are poised to captivate both locals and visitors alike, boosting economic prosperity and enhancing New Jersey’s reputation as a premier travel destination.