FLEMINGTON, NJ – Visitors to Hunterdon spent $317 million on tourism goods and services in 2016.

Tourism Impact Study performed by the Lloyd Levinson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism at Stockton University, and is a record amount of total tourism-related spending in the county.

Brian Tyrrell, Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Stockton University, presented the findings to Freeholders – who commissioned the study – at their meeting Tuesday.

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The county’s Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware River Towns Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau were partners in the study, which was funded by a grant from the state’s Highlands Council.

“The impact study is positive and heartening news about tourism as an economic driver in the county and, most importantly, demonstrates that there is tremendous room to grow the tourism element of the local economy,” said Freeholder Board Director Matt Holt.

The data is the result of the first phase of the three-phase study being conducted by the Levinson Institute, which is part of the county’s Economic Development strategy.

The $317 million of spending on tourism includes $81.4 million spent on food and beverage, which represents the largest single portion of tourism spending in Hunterdon, about 26 percent of the total.

That was followed closely by spending in the transportation sector at $81.3 million (26 percent), shopping ($66.6 million or 21 percent) and traveler accommodations ($36.8 million or 11 percent).

Growth has been particularly pronounced in the spring and summer months.

Hunterdon’s tourism industry employed an estimated 2,865 individuals in 2016, according to the study. employed in the tourism industry in Hunterdon County during 2016, which is the most recent year for which data is available.

The county initiated the study to learn more about the impact and viability of tourism locally and to determine a way to create a sustainable effort to maximize tourism economic development, according to County Economic Development Director Marc Saluk.

Phase two of the study is underway. It will build a profile of the Hunterdon visitor and learn more about their patterns once they’re here. It will be conducted during the visitor season, from April through October.

Phase three of the study will include recommendations for tourism initiatives, Saluk said.

Phase 1 of the study is available on the county website.