Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry that generates revenue and creates jobs. At a State House press conference Thursday, Republican Sen. Bob Singer (R-Lakewood) urged the Christie administration to spend more on tourism promotion.

Battleship New Jersey Museum (Photo Credit: BattleshipNewJersey.org)

The lawmaker also lamented the fact that this year Michigan will spend seven times more than New Jersey on tourism promotion.

"Their (Michigan's) budget this year is $72 million dollars to sell 'Pure Michigan,'" Singer said. "We had $9 million in our budget this year for tourism. We spent $6 million and turned back $3 million. We turned back $3 million into the budget that we did not spend on tourism."

The senator wants the state to develop a cell phone app that people can use to find zoos, aquariums, minor league baseball parks and the Battleship New Jersey. He said it should be easy to use and provide directions to venue of interest. Singer also wants experts to help design the best ways to promote the state's tourism industry.

"We're talking about bringing together a true tourism council. The one presently now has not met or been involved for 12 years," Singer noted. "What does that tell you?"

Gov. Chris Christie's office did not return a call seeking comment. New Jersey is already getting a very good return on its tourism promotion investment. The latest statistics revealed tourism generates about $40 billion annually.

Singer is spearheading the effort to pass four bills to bolster tourism in New Jersey. They include:

  • Establishing a mobile tourism app and overhauling tourism advertising, marketing and research (S-2759);
  • Bringing A-List entertainers to Atlantic City through tax breaks (S-2721);
  • Improving access to Atlantic City and nearby beaches, restaurants and golf course (S-208);
  • Encouraging the marketing of local specialty food markets (S-2863).