Tourism spending in New Jersey hit $44.7 billion in 2018

New Jersey's beaches, casinos, forests and cities attracted tourists who spent nearly $45 billion in 2018.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said tourism spending in New Jersey has increased for nine years in a row.

Speaking at a tourism conference Thursday in Trenton, Murphy said the tourism industry generated $5 billion in state and local taxes in 2018. He said about 111 million people visited the Garden State last year, up more than 7% from the previous year.

"The results released today make clear that New Jersey's natural landscape, picturesque cities and towns, and abundant shoreline are in a class of their own, and attracting more visitors than ever," Murphy said. "In the years to come and as this critical industry continues to grow, I look forward to joining families from around the world in enjoying what New Jersey has to offer, supporting the businesses and communities that make our state special."

Tourism is the state's seventh-largest industry, supporting nearly 334,000 jobs - around 1 in 10 jobs in the state. When indirect jobs, such as those that supply the industry, are included, the figure rises to over 531,000 jobs.

Food and beverages and lodging accounted for the largest share of tourism spending. Retail purchases were next at 18%, transportation accounted for 17% and recreation generated 12%.

Tourism spending in 2017 was $42.8 billion, about 4.4% lower than last year.

The Jersey shore counties accounted for nearly half of all tourism spending at about 48%, according to state figures.

The reopening of two shuttered casinos in Atlantic City helped generate an increase of 7.4% in visitation to the seaside gambling resorts. Revel, which closed in 2014, reopened as the Ocean Casino Resort. And the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in 2016, reopened as the Hard Rock.