Posted on December 08, 2021
Leslie T. Bensley Created “Heritage Tourism” in Morris County
Leslie T. Bensley, who built the Morris County Tourism Bureau from a simple idea in 1997 into an economic force in the region, was honored by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners this evening when it announced its retired as executive director of the agency. after 24 years.
Directing Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw presented him with a framed resolution of honor on behalf of the board, followed by State Senator Anthony M. Bucco, who bestowed a state honor at the public board meeting. administration.
“We are eternally in debt. You put Morris County on the map and helped the local economy. It’s phenomenal what you have done. Once again, on behalf of this council and all the residents of Morris County and all who visit Morris County, I have the privilege and honor to present this resolution to you and to thank you, ” Shaw said.
Bensley has been the head of the Tourist Board since it opened across the street from the historic Morris County Courthouse with the support of the Board of Trustees, then known as the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and in particular the Freeholder Frank Druetzler of the time.
“I am very touched and honored to have been the Executive Director for almost a quarter of a century,” said Bensley, praising Druetzler for having the foresight to invest in the Tourist Board.
“I remember when Frank hired me in 1997 he did something so remarkable. He saved and saved tourism because when he started before he had run out of steam and he felt it was too important for this county not to do something, ”Bensley explained.
Check out the “Morristown Green Profile” on Leslie T. Bensley
Shaw noted that Bensley launched the Bureau’s efforts to promote Morris County’s exceptional historic, cultural and recreational opportunities, helping Morris County tourism to quadruple and generate more than $ 2.3 billion in economic activity. annual in 2019. The New Jersey Travel and Tourism Division estimates that the county averaged 6.5 million annual visitors at the time.
Bensley initially focused on Morris County’s historic links to the War of Independence by drawing visitors to the area through “heritage tourism”.
“It was my guiding star. This is my loading star. He says, tell the story of the destination, ”Bensley explained. “It doesn’t matter who else has the story of the American Revolution, or the story of Gustav Stickley, or the story of Thomas Nast or the story of the magnetic telegraph, our story is unique to us. So as long as you stick with it, you’ll find an audience because it’s worth it. “
Force of nature
Bensley’s focus on heritage tourism has been so effective that she was appointed in 2010 to the Governor’s Task Force for Heritage Tourism, where she served as vice chair and worked on the publication of the tourism plan. heritage for New Jersey. The document served as a roadmap for the development of heritage tourism throughout the state.
“Leslie is a force of nature. She can move anything and she could probably solve the problem of climate change, ”said Druetzler, who attended the meeting. “What was the reception center before his arrival? In the lobby, there was a bulletin board with flyers on it. That was it. … Morris County is truly the true capital of the American Revolution and she made people understand that.
Number one cheerleader
Bucco called her “Morris County’s number one cheerleader.”
“Not only have you represented millions of people entering the county, but billions of dollars in economic revenue that your office has helped generate around. the county – and that’s so important to the economic growth of this region, ”said Bucco. “So tonight I am honored to also present a quote from the Senate and the General Assembly acknowledging your work. I also have a Senate resolution that will be passed by both the Senate and the Assembly recognizing all of your accomplishments, so good luck and God bless you.
The New Jersey Travel and Tourism Division has graced the Morris County Tourism Bureau’s marketing campaigns on several occasions over the years. Bensley also received the 2013 New Jersey Historical Commission Recognition Award for his many years of supporting, advocating and promoting the history and historic sites of Morris County.
A visit to the Tourist Office
Under Bensley’s tutelage, the Office grew by creating a membership program and securing grants beyond county contributions. She also set up historic kiosks and walking tours, as well as destination signs to guide visitors, and frequently created public events to draw attention to historic sites in Morris County.
During her tenure, Bensley also served as Treasurer of the Advocates for New Jersey History, co-founded the Coalition of New Jersey Destination Marketing Organizations, and served on the boards of the Crossroads of American Revolution Heritage Area and New Jersey Travel. Industry Association. .
Bensley lives in Morris Township with her 36-year-old husband Charlie, with whom she had two children, Eliza and Sam. She said she plans to spend more time in retirement as a tourist and spend more time in retirement as a tourist. time in Morris County with a new addition to his family: his grandson, Graham McKenzie Folsom.
Visit the Morris County Tourism Board website.