VERNON — U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) brought together business owners, the Sussex Chamber, elected officials, and tourism leaders at Mountain Creek Ski Resort for the first of many discussions about how to bring more tourism to Sussex County. Gottheimer also announced that he and State Senator Steve Oroho (LD-24) are sending a letter to the Governor looking for more resources for Sussex and Warren in tourism grants and investment to capitalize on the natural resources and tourist attractions in the area. In Vernon, the group talked about cutting taxes and red tape for businesses, how to invest dollars in advertising in the region, and how to best get the word out about all that Sussex County has to offer, from skiing to horseback riding to museums and arts to minor league baseball “Sussex County has some of the most beautiful natural spaces and attractions the state has to offer and tourism is a driving economic force in New Jersey and in the region,” Gottheimer said. “We are launching a new Tourism Task Force with State Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space, Chamber Commerce President Tammy Horsfield, and are writing to the Governor to make sure we are making sure businesses out in Sussex County are able to grow and thrive in the tourism industry. These are businesses who do outstanding work in our community and they are losing business and visitors to Pennsylvania and New York because those states are investing massive amounts of money in their tourism promotion, but here in New Jersey, people don't know about what this area has to offer. We need to be doing everything we can to support these businesses and through this Tourism Task Force, I look forward to doing exactly that." Domestic and international travelers to New Jersey spent $21.8 billion in 2016 and generated $3.9 billion to federal, state, and local governments which help fund many public programs. In the 5th district alone, travelers spent $1.6 billion. This spending supported 219,690 jobs in New Jersey, representing 6.5 percent of the state’s total private industry employment. Without these jobs, New Jersey’s unemployment rate of 5 percent would have been 9.8 percent. For every million dollars spent on tourism in New Jersey, 10 new jobs are created.The State of New Jersey spends about $9 million every year on tourism promotion, of which only $150,000 goes to the promotion of Sussex County, its businesses, and tourist attractions, according to the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce. Also according to the Chamber, for every dollar spent on tourism in New Jersey, the economy makes back $20 more.