New Jersey has a rich history that includes Native American archaeological sites, agricultural and industrial buildings, three centuries of residential buildings, schools and halls, parks and theaters, and much more. Many of these heritage sites are available to the public, including hundreds that are interpreted as historical destinations or contribute to the tourism economy.
In 2012 the NJ Historic Trust launched a new endeavor to encourage the development of New Jersey's heritage tourism industry by providing access to tourism resources and funding for technical assistance.
The Discover NJ History License Plate Fund for Heritage Tourism will provide small grants to municipalities, counties or nonprofit organizations to promote interpretation, marketing and linkages among heritage sites.
This Fund is supported by income from the "Discover NJ History" License Plate which was established in 1995 as a source of revenue for historic preservation projects. The License Plate provided funding to the NJ Heritage Tourism Task Force for preparation of the Master Plan.
Finally, this web site provides a variety of resources that inform heritage site stewards about the heritage tourism industry and also places to visit in New Jersey.
Heritage Tourism Master Plan for New Jersey
The New Jersey Heritage Tourism Master Plan was developed by the NJ Heritage Tourism Task Force, which was established by the legislature (P.L. 2006, Ch. 60). The Task Force was charged with improving New Jersey's performance in the regional and national heritage tourism market.
The final Master Plan for heritage tourism reports the finding of an extensive survey and inventory of New Jersey's historic resources, explores options for signage and marker programs, makes recommendations for improving coordination among New Jersey’s historic sites and helps identify stable sources of funding for the enhancement, maintenance and interpretation of our historic sites.
On behalf of the members of the New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force, I am pleased to present the New Jersey Heritage Tourism Master Plan. This plan is the result of intensive work by the Heritage Tourism Task Force and numerous partners who are committed to making heritage tourism an even more vital part of our state’s third largest industry—tourism.
New Jersey has many splendid heritage tourism destinations—such as Cape May, Lambertville and Ellis Island—whose visitors come to experience historic sites as well as natural and cultural offerings. Morristown and other cities have developed and market New Jersey’s military and industrial heritage. Additionally, the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area will encourage tourists to discover Revolutionary New Jersey. National travel trends indicate the economic benefits New Jersey can generate with a strong heritage tourism program.
A 2009 national travel study reveals that 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, translating to 118.3 million adults each year. The economic impact is clear: cultural and heritage travelers spend an average of $994 per trip compared to only $611 for other leisure travelers.
Collectively, cultural heritage travelers contribute more than $192 billion annually to the U.S. economy. New Jersey must tap into this economic opportunity. We propose the formation of a New Jersey Inter-agency Heritage Tourism Council to provide leadership and create a statewide system of partnerships. The council would link state agencies, destination marketing organizations, heritage and cultural organizations, historic sites, communities and other partners to forge a unified approach to heritage tourism development.
By preserving our historic sites and telling the stories of our state’s past, New Jersey will enjoy the rewards of heritage tourism by generating increased revenue as we welcome more visitors. We are asking our legislators to revisit the formulas used to fund tourism, history and the arts through the hotel/motel tax and to invest considerably more in our state’s third largest industry.
All the members of the New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force and I look forward to working with each of you as we make New Jersey a premier heritage tourism destination.
-Cathleen R. Litvack
Chair, New Jersey Heritage Tourism Task Force