As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a New Jersey lawmaker is pushing a plan to reinvigorate the state’s tourism industry for next year’s summer season.

Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, R-Cape May, has introduced legislation that would require 100% of all funds collected from the state’s hotel-motel occupancy tax be allocated to support tourism, the arts and historical programs

Under current state law in place since 2005, only 40% of the tax goes to support those programs.

McClellan said this past summer season, with concern about traveling because of the pandemic, “we’ve take a big hit. Just tourism alone in Cape May county took about a 29% hit due to COVID.”

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McClellan said more than 116 million people visited the Garden State in 2019, spending more than $46 billion while generating more than $5 billion in state and local taxes. This past spring and summer, those numbers were way down.

McClellan said the tourism industry is the largest employer in Cape May County, accounting for 42.6% of all jobs. When the indirect impact of tourism is taken into account, that number jumps to nearly 60%.

He said arts and culture bring tourists to New Jersey and is a benefit to residents, too.

The proposed measure (A4731) specifies:

• 56.7% of collected hotel-motel tax revenue would go to the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for cultural projects as long as the actual dollar amount allocated is at least $31.9 million
• 9.6% would go to the New Jersey Historical Commission for historical heritage purposes, as long as at least $5.5 million is allocated
• 31.9% would go to the Division of Travel and Tourism in the Department of State for tourism as long as at least $17.6 million is allocated
• 1.8% would go to the New Jersey Cultural Trust as long as the amount is not less than $720,000.

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