Volume 5 • Issue 2 2007 fall Home
NJ Heritage Tourism Task Force Wants to Hear from YOU
by New Jersey Historic Trust
prallsville mill
Visitors tour Prallsville Mill, a site for heritage tourism and eco-tourism.
Thirteen members of the public testified at the first hearing sponsored by the New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force on October 9 at the State House in Trenton.  The Task Force heard from individuals representing counties and municipalities, heritage site stewards and private citizens as part of its process of collecting information about ways to strengthen the state’s heritage tourism industry.

Individuals providing testimony were asked to help the task force create a “wish list” of desirable scenarios to encourage heritage tourism in New Jersey:

"New Jersey is home to a rich historic legacy, from Colonial times to the Revolutionary War all the way through the Industrial Revolution," said Senator Buono (D-Middlesex), the Senate sponsor of the legislation that established the NJHTTF.  “By properly tapping this unique resource and learning from other successful heritage tourism hot spots, like Philadelphia, we can attract an entirely new group of tourists to New Jersey.”

Bonnie Lynn Nadzeika agreed the priority is to “keep New Jersey heritage tourists in New Jersey” and offer competitive programs and experiences to draw visitors from neighboring states.  She also encouraged the task force to promote collaboration, not competition among historic sites and to “look beyond the Revolution” to later periods of New Jersey history that can tell different stores and attract new audiences.

Many other issues were discussed:

  • Taneshia Nash Laird of the Trenton Downtown Association reported the significant economic impact of annual “Patriot’s Week” in Trenton.  A $3,000 investment by the city resulted in a $100,000 impact on the economy and attracted visitors from as far as Massachusetts and Virginia.
  • Volunteer organizations that are heritage site stewards need technical assistance in preparing sites for visitation, providing amenities and marketing heritage resources, said Sara Hill of the Colonial Dames of American in New Jersey, which owns and operated two historic sites.
  • Union County Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski described the county’s heralded “Four Centuries in a Weekend” annual event and the desire to expand the weekend event to become a year-round tourism experience.
  • Use technology, such as phone tours and web sites, to attract new audiences, urged Samuel Frisby, Director of Trenton’s Department of Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture

Other speakers suggested the need to develop international marketing and ecotourism, improve way-finding signage and continue capital investment by public and private entities in preserving the built environment.