Steve Adubato: Tourism Gets a Boost (No Fueling!)

A Q&A with Nancy J. Byrne, executive director of the New Jersey's Division of Travel and Tourism.

Bill Reaume of Germantown, Pa., at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge.
Photo by Marc Steiner/Agency New Jersey

No one knows more about fall getaways in New Jersey than Nancy J. Byrne, executive director of the state’s Division of Travel and Tourism. Here are her insights about tourism, the economy, and great places to visit in the Garden State.

What challenges face tourism in New Jersey?

The challenge to anybody in the tourism industry today is providing a great experience for the visitor. In this day and age, you want to provide something authentic and something that leaves the traveler wanting to come back or tell someone else about what a great time they had.

Selling New Jersey as something that is so unique and interesting is not easy, as it is all about perception. We do tours with travel writers, and when they see New Jersey, they cannot believe how great this state is.
 
How has the economy affected travel decisions New Jerseyans make?

It is the discretionary spending that was affected most. Specifically, as for the folks that I spoke to at the Shore, the

  that saw a downturn were restaurants, especially lunch and midweek. People are probably visiting for long weekends, and, if anything, they will not go out for lunch. Those
felt the impact. Also, the guys who rent jet skis and the other incidental things felt an impact. What we found is that people were still going to the Shore, but they were cutting back on incidentals such as T-shirts and souvenirs.

However, it is important to note that the economic situation [also] has seemed to help us this summer—at least that is what we are predicting. Based on anecdotal stories from Cape May to as high as Monmouth Beach, people were still going to the beach because it was close. For example, you go to Long Branch, and by looking at license plates, you can see there are a lot of New Yorkers coming to our beaches. The economy is helping us because you don’t have to pay airfare, and you can easily put four people in a car, and use only a couple of gallons of gas.

What are some of the hottest attractions?

Atlantic City is growing as a summer destination. There are so many things families can do there. Also, if you haven’t been to Asbury Park recently, that place is coming back. And Cape May had a fantastic summer.
 
What fall destinations should people consider?

Crystal Springs has expanded significantly in recent years, adding a great spa, a lodge, and more golf, now 108 holes. For fall they are sitting pretty. Why go to Vermont when you can head up to Sussex County? Even AAA has acknowledged it is a great place. You are in the mountains, it is quiet and serene, and, most importantly, it is nearby. There is excellent food and lots of activities, not to mention wonderful accommodations.

Lambertville is a great destination on the Delaware River, as well as any of the towns north and south of Lambertville, such as Princeton. The Pinelands and the Shore are still popular in the fall, as is Cape May.
Then there is bird watching, which is really phenomenal during the migrating season. In the fall, they are heading south, and Cape May is an ideal spot to see them.

The Meadowlands is another unique fall destination, as you can kayak on the Hackensack River adjacent to Xanadu and see many species of birds, all with the Empire State Building in the background. That is a kind of experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Steve Adubato, PhD., is an Emmy Award-winning anchor for Thirteen/WNET and a media analyst and columnist for MSNBC.com, who also appears regularly on CBS 2.  He is the author of the book Make the Connection, as well as his newest book What Were They Thinking?, which examines highly publicized and often controversial public relations and media mishaps.  For more information, log on to www.stand-deliver.com.

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