New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey recently proposed a 7% tax on campground spaces and motel rooms, but opponents have already lined up against it, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
“We don’t need a tax that is going to hurt us,” said Bob Patterson, executive director of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce.
Patterson believes the tax likely would shorten a visitor’s stay and reduce vacation money spent on meals and entertainment. He is among those think New Jersey needs every edge it can get in the fight for tourism dollars.
The state spends about $3 million on tourism, its No. 2 industry, and Cape May County’s major industry, compared to the $35 million Pennsylvania spends, Patterson added.
Ocean City tourism leader Joanne Delvescio said the city spends about $164,000 promoting tourism. To the south, Ocean City, Md., spends about $3.5 million.
State Assemblyman Nick Asselta, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said those figures speak volumes about the tourism industry and the lack of respect it receives from the state.
Ed Hutchinson, president of the board of the Greater Cape May Chamber of Commerce, added that the tax would affect both New Jersey residents and out of state guests. Hutchinson operates an inn and he estimates that at least 50% of his guests are from New Jersey.
“It’s the people here in New Jersey they are taxing,” Hutchinson said, adding the governor should remember that each New Jersey visitor who is forced to pay the new tax is also a potential voter.
Asselta said the budget committee in the Legislature is still working out details of the 2003 budget and several bills also provide for creation of the new room tax. He expects to learn more about what form the tax could take by early May.