Every single New Jersey county attracted more tourists and tourism dollars in 2018 than in 2017.

And in terms of growth in visitor spending, counties along the Jersey Shore were outperformed by quite a few others that aren't as synonymous with tourism.

According to data released this month by the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, direct sales related to tourism grew more in Gloucester County than anywhere else, jumping 9.4% from 2017 to 2018.

Southern counties away from the coastline actually took four out of the top six spots in tourism revenue growth (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem).

"South Jersey is just a wealth of many things to do that suits many people," said Michael Snyder, director of operations for Visit South Jersey.

The state's tourism numbers take into account money spent on lodging, food and beverage, retail, recreation, transportation, and second homes.

The website for Gloucester County mentions 25 "things to do," but not all require dough to be enjoyed. Among the county's list:

  • Bus Stop Music Cafe, Pitman (Organic restaurant/record store/instrument repair shop)
  • Creamy Acres Farm, Mullica Hill (Working fairy farm/farmers market/play area)
  • Bridgeport Speedway, Logan Twp. (Stock car racetrack, plus live bands and food)
  • Wheelabrator Wildlife Refuge, Westville (75 acres of undeveloped land)
  • Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse, Paulsboro (Tours available April through October)
  • Pine Barrens Birding & Wild Life Trail (Includes 12 driving routes)

Beyond attracting visitors straight to these non-shore counties, Snyder said, a goal of officials is to get people to make a pit stop in the region while on their way to the Jersey Shore.

From 2017 to 2018, Atlantic County's nearly 15% jump in visitation led the state. Camden County was next in line with a 14% increase, followed by Salem and Gloucester.

Statewide, visitation surged 7.4% to over 110 million in 2018. Visitor spending rose to $44.7 billion. The seventh largest employer in the state, tourism supports one out of 10.2 jobs.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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