On Thursday, August 24th, Hunterdon County Commissioner John Lanza, along with members of the New Jersey Legislature, and fellow Commissioners from Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties, attended a bill signing by Governor Phil Murphy establishing Central Jersey, as a tourist region. The signing took place in the historic district of Somerville, at the Wallace House, an old Dutch Parsonage.
The signing of this bill establishes the Garden State will restructure its tourism map to include and promote Central Jersey and all it has to offer, including its scenic towns, natural parks, and wineries. Central Jersey will now be made up of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties. The new law requires the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism to promote Central Jersey businesses.
Commissioner John Lanza shared, “I am proud to say that Central Jersey is officially on the map! The State has finally recognized a place we always knew existed. It is a place with a distinct landscape and culture: the place where we all live. The signing of this bill recognizes the region’s history and its heretofore untapped resources: recreation and tourism. I encourage residents and visitors alike to explore this area and take advantage of the beautiful
landscapes, fabulous restaurants, and various activities scheduled in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties throughout the year.”
The law also redirects some federal aid supporting tourism marketing to regions in need of economic relief and dictates that at least 10 % of the Division of Travel and Tourism’s annual appropriation be dedicated to highlighting agritourism, including visits to farms, craft beverage makers, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets, and agriculturally themed festivals.
The new law compliments Hunterdon County’s ongoing ‘Explore Hunterdon’ initiative which among other things, highlights the County’s bustling agritourism industry and historic downtowns.
The Wallace House, where the bill was signed is of significance, since it is the home of signers of New Jersey’s first Constitution, and the location of George Washington’s winter headquarters during the First Middlebrook encampment during the Revolutionary War—an important piece of history unique to this area of New Jersey.
Commissioner Lanza concluded, “The hope is that the signing of this bill will boost economic vitality and tourism to pre-pandemic levels and bolster financial growth for local and small businesses in our region.”