Letter to Governor-Elect Chris Christie – Tourism and the Image of New...

Letter to Governor-Elect Chris Christie – Tourism and the Image of New Jersey

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Dear Mr Christie –

I wanted to congratulate you on your win. Hopefully now we can make some very necessary changes to New Jersey, and I hope for the better.

I did want to point out to you the importance of tourism and the image that New Jersey portrays to the world. Everyone goes over the numbers – billion dollar industry, for every dollar invested in tourism the state gets back over $30, etc, etc. But really it seems that this gets lost on people and the politicians really don’t seem to understand how much people’s livelihoods are tied to the tourism industry. Not just directly like Six Flags Great Adventure or Liberty Science Center, but indirectly also, from the fisherman who catch the fish, to the farmers who supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the restaurants, to the laundry and maid service for hotels. Most politicians seem to think that “tourism” – means fun and vacation – not money and so they think of it as a frivolous expense. This is the farthest thing from the truth and New Jersey relies very much on the tourism dollar. Here is a blog post I had written concerning how tourism touches everyone’s life in New Jersey –
NJ Tourism and You – Perfect Together

Now in addition to numerous cuts in state tourism funding, New Jersey is besieged by negative press from reality shows, late night talk show hosts, etc. This all has an affect on how effectively our tourism advertising works. The latest attack is the MTV show called “Jersey Shore”. MTV’s promos describe it as this – “… the hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos. They keep their hair high, their muscles juiced and their fists pumping…Get ready for a whole new crazy.” Now if that wasn’t bad enough – this is how New York’s NBC describes OUR Jersey Shore in their review of the show….

‘If you thought “The Hills” was bad, just wait for MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” starring the “hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos” around as they wade (carefully) through the (dirty) water and step (gingerly)on… the (needle-ridden) sand on their way to down Jagerbombs.’
NBC New York – MTV Launches Jersey Shore Reality TV Show

New Jersey needs to start standing up to these negative stories, we need to take control of our message, similar to what Cory Booker did for Newark against Conan O’Brien. Tom Kean stood up, Christie Todd-Whitman defended New Jersey against media attacks, but with McGreevey and Corzine, it’s been pretty quiet and the tourism industry is very much feeling the affects. Secretary of State Nina Mitchell-Wells has done an excellent job with what she has been given and has been a HUGE tourism advocate. But it seems that many politicians, including Corzine, just don’t get it.

I am imploring you to please look at the importance of tourism on the state’s economy. Look at the condition of our historic heritage sites – which by the way – tourists that frequent historic sites, spend more on lodging, restaurants and other activities, and this brings even more money into the state’s economy than the casual beach goer.

In addition to being president of AboutNewJersey.com, I am also Vice President of the Princeton Battlefield Society – the Officially Recognized Friends Organization of Princeton Battlefield State Park. We have huge untapped resources that if we can get them funded and improved, we would be bringing in tourists who would be spending their money in New JERSEY and helping the state’s economy. Princeton Battlefield is only one small piece of the untapped heritage tourism puzzle – but it is one of the most important ones. It is where Washington’s first victory over the British occurred, his first victory occurring in Trenton over the Hessians, not to mention his world famous Christmas morning crossing of the Delaware. It is why these ten days are referred collectively as “THE Ten Crucial Days”. Without these victories, there would be no United States today – the army enlistments were up December 31st. Washington convinced his men to stand by him for one last attempt and that attempt was right here in Trenton and Princeton. But because of lack of funding, we lose the tourists AND their money to Williamsburg, Valley Forge, Gettysburg and Philadelphia. Because of lack of funds , these state treasures and tourism magnets are closed, in severe disrepair and under-manned. The Clarke House, the house where General Hugh Mercer died and witnessed Washington’s first victory on it’s farm fields, has shutters falling off, windows cracked, the fireplace is unusable and has no adequate space to properly display the museum pieces.

Other states understand tourism, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, California. Even New Orleans understood the importance of having Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina – even though so many people were saying – how could they put on Mardi Gras when people lost their homes. New Orleans recognized that it was the ONLY way to bring money back into the economy and save so many people who were struggling and businesses that were about ready to fail because people weren’t going to the restaurant, or staying at the hotels. It is time that New Jersey once again understood tourism and the importance of the state’s public image. Tom Kean understood this, as did Christie Todd-Whitman and I sincerely hope you will too.

Thank you –

Robert Rosetta

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