Proposed NJ law defines ‘Central Jersey’ — some surprised by what’s missing
If it gets its own spot on the New Jersey tourism map, then it must exist. Right?
A proposed law waiting for action in the New Jersey Legislature establishes a "Central Jersey" region on paper, which would then have to be included in the state's tourism marketing efforts.
"It deserves to be highlighted and be part of the economic force," Assemblyman Roy Freiman, D-Somerset, told New Jersey 101.5. "There's a certain vibe and a landscape associated with this area, which is underutilized from a tourism, attraction, recreation, quality-of-life perspective."
Currently, the state's tourism map is divided into six regions: Skyland, Gateway, Delaware River, Shore, Southern Shore, and Greater Atlantic City.
Under Freiman's measure, the Central Jersey region would consist of, "at a minimum," Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties. A companion bill in the Senate says the same.
"As we have further dialogue and further discussion, it also can include some other parts of our state," Freiman said.
As of now, those four counties are split among the map's Skyway, Gateway, and Delaware River regions.
Responding to the newly introduced legislation, state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said anything that doesn't include Monmouth County should never be considered as Central Jersey.
"You can't change the laws of mathematics and you can't change the boundaries of Central Jersey," O'Scanlon said. "If they want to leave out Monmouth, they have to call it something else."
Freiman said the bill wasn't crafted to put an end to the "Is there a Central Jersey?" debate (he says it exists, by the way) — serious intent went into the legislation, in order to more efficiently spend tourism dollars and promote everything New Jersey has to offer.
"When it comes to tourism, New Jersey is more than just a beautiful shore," Freiman said. "We could be celebrating so much more."
In addition to creating a Central Jersey tourism region, the bill would mandate that any use of federal COVID funds for tourism be distributed based on the regions and activities that are most in need of economic assistance. Also, the Division of Travel and Tourism would have to dedicate at least 10% of its annual appropriation to the promotion of agritourism.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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