NEWS IN BRIEF
Tourism advocates meet with legislators at Tourism Day
About 200 leaders of the state's tourism industry convened in Annapolis, Feb. 3, for Tourism Day – an annual advocacy event presented by the Maryland Tourism Council and Maryland Destination Marketing Organizations (MDMO) that enables members of the industry to make the case for tourism funding to state legislators by discussing the industry's economic value.
DMOs met with their state legislators during the morning, then returned to a ground-floor hall in the Miller Senate Office Building before noon to report on those meetings. Other speakers followed, including Christian Johansson, secretary of the Maryland Division of Business and Economic Development, Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, and Greg Shockley, chair of the Maryland Tourism Development Board.
"It's all about economic development and jobs," Johansson said of tourism. He announced that the industry provides $1.9 billion in state and local taxes, while employing 130,000 Marylanders in full-time positions. He also said that 97 percent of tourism-industry enterprises are small businesses. And, he underscored Gov. Martin O'Malley's commitment to tourism.
Shockley, owner-operator of Shenanigan's Irish Pub and Grille in Ocean City, said the effort to advise legislators of the economic impact of tourism is "a continuing education process in which we have to tell our story."
Before and after a keynote address by Brian Conyers, general manager of the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore, a stream of legislators stopped by the gathering to offer their greetings.
Among them: Sen. David R. Brinkley (Frederick and Carroll counties); Del. Rudolph C. Cane (Dorchester and Wicomico counties);Sen. Richard F. Colburn (Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico counties); Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (Montgomery County); Del. Jay A. Jacobs (Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's counties); Sen. Nancy Jacobs (Harford and Cecil counties); Sen. Verna L. Jones-Rodwell (Baltimore City); Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (Baltimore County); Sen. James N. Mathias (Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties); Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (Prince George's County); Sen. E.J. Pipkin (Kent, Queen Anne, Cecil and Caroline counties); Sen. James N. Robey (Howard County); and Del. David R. Rudolph (Cecil County).
Travelers get authenticity, attention at B&Bs and inns
"B&Bs have distinctive appeal to a wide range of travelers," says Margot Amelia, executive director of the tourism office. A 2011 industry survey (prepared by the Ypartnership/ Harrison Group) revealed that leisure travelers who stayed at B&Bs and inns during the previous year said they liked the unique, authentic experiences that these accommodations offer. And, about two-thirds of those surveyed liked the low-key atmosphere of B&Bs."
Getting a better sense of local culture and staying at a place with unique décor and interesting architecture also resonate well with travelers in the survey, Amelia points out, adding that survey results further show how travelers appreciate the personalized service and attentiveness that proprietors offer.
"B&Bs and inns are the epitome of small-business enterprises – and small businesses are the backbone of Maryland's tourism industry," Amelia says. "Moreover, when travelers stay at a B&B, they get inside information about what to do or where to go in the area from local tourism experts – the innkeepers."
As for amenities, Danielle Hanscom, president of the Maryland Bed and Breakfast Association says: "Some B&Bs offer exquisite, yet comfortable rooms with exceptional amenities: king beds with high-end linens, private baths with spa tubs, jetted showers, working fireplaces, free Wi-Fi and a wonderful breakfast at no extra cost." Hanscom is co-owner of Brampton Bed and Breakfast Inn, an updated 1860 plantation house on 35 acres outside Chestertown.
A&E districts generate jobs, new businesses
Maryland's arts and entertainment (A&E) districts supported more than 1,600 jobs and nearly $50 million in wages on average annually between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2010, according to an economic-impact study released by the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).
"The proven economic impact of arts and entertainment districts exemplifies Maryland's commitment to strategic, modern investing that spurs the economy and improves our quality of life," said DBED Secretary Christian Johansson. "The study's findings show that thriving arts communities create an inviting framework for new jobs and businesses, encourage tourism and generate a tremendous impact to our economy."
A&E districts provided approximately $37.6 million in total tax revenue during the study period. New businesses in the districts generated $6.6 million and visitor spending at events supported by the districts accounted for the other $31 million.
Maryland's first six arts and entertainment districts began operation in 2002. Since then, the state has designated 13 more districts. Two have recently received re-designation. Local and county governments can apply for the 10-year A&E designation, which offers a variety of tax incentives to encourage artists, arts organizations and arts-related enterprises to locate in an A&E district. Maryland was the first state to create a state-wide A&E district program.
Frederick VC, C&O Canal NHP receive Preservation Awards
Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) – an agency of the Maryland Department of Planning – presented its 2012 Maryland Preservation Awards, Jan. 31 at the Governor Calvert Ballroom in Annapolis, to 14 recipients from 12 counties in the state.
One award honored the Tourism Council of Frederick County and others for the Frederick Visitor Center, "the result of the rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of a 110-year-old cannery warehouse within Frederick's National Register Historic District."
Another award went to the National Park Service (NPS) and C&O Canal Trust for outstanding stewardship of an historic property, C&O Canal National Historical Park. NPS partnered with the trust to create the Canal Quarters Program, which allows travelers to stay overnight in historic structures. The park has 1,300 buildings along the 184.5-mile-long canal, and draws 4.1 million annual visitors.
Four Rivers Heritage Area in Anne Arundel County also received an award. MHT cited the organization's outstanding leadership at the local level. Four Rivers – one of Maryland's certified heritage areas – has developed an array of programs and projects that support heritage tourism.
Mountain Maryland delivers tourism message to lawmakers
Representatives of Allegany and Garrett counties trumpeted the economic magnitude of tourism to state legislators at the annual Mountain Maryland PACE Legislative Reception and Breakfast in Annapolis, Jan. 26-27. About 500 people attended the Thursday evening and Friday morning events. Sen. Benjamin Cardin and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown were keynote speakers at the breakfast.
"This was a great opportunity to impress upon state policymakers the importance of tourism to our economy and laws that encourage economic development instead of inhibiting business potential," said Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce in a written statement.
Leaders of Allegany and Garrett counties have used the PACE (Positive Attitudes Change Everything) event as a joint campaign to inform and educate state lawmakers and other officials about the resources and needs of the Mountain Maryland region, with an emphasis on tourism and commerce. This year's theme was: Come to play – Plan to stay.
Hotel association honors industry 'stars' at yearly event
The Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association held its annual Stars of the Industry Awards Celebration, Jan. 27 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore.
"Success in the lodging industry has always been the result of a total team effort," said David Reel, MHLA president and CEO. "Accordingly, the Stars of the Industry program has a wide range of individual award categories – ranging from the front door of the hotel, Bell Person of the Year, to the executive offices of the hotel, General Manager of the Year. All are important and all deserve recognition for a job well done."
The following are some of the award winners:
- Janet Campbell, director of sales, Best Western Hotel & Conference Center, named Sales and Marketing Employee of the Year
- Megan DeFelice, assistant general manager (food and beverage), Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, named Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year
- Gail Smith-Howard, general manager, Hyatt Regency Baltimore, named Hotelier of the Year
- Cephas E. Thomas, director of loss prevention, Renaissance Harborplace Baltimore, named Manager/Supervisor of the Year
- Loews Annapolis Hotel, Guest Relations Award
- Holiday Inn Inner Harbor, Special Event Award
Travel organization urges U.S. to 'Vote travel'
U.S. Travel Association has launched a year-long campaign to raise awareness of the travel industry across the nation and among policymakers in Washington, D.C.
"The world is experiencing a travel boom and the United States needs to be part of it," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "The impact of the $1.8 trillion U.S. travel industry is significant and growing, which is why we are galvanizing support and asking all Americans to 'Vote travel' this election season."
U.S. Travel plans to have a significant presence through its campaign at the political conventions in late August and early September. It will also host events and rallies nationwide, conduct strategic grassroots outreach, and invest in social media outlets.
HBO releases Game Change trailer
This film about John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, starring Julianne Moore (Sarah Palin), Ed Harris (McCain) and Woody Harrelson (McCain adviser Steve Schmidt), premieres March 10. It was filmed in Maryland.
Getting away together at Deep Creek Lake
Watch a trailer for an upcoming episode of PBS' reality show Getting Away Together, which features a family enjoying a vacation at Deep Creek Lake.
Beverly Evans Brown, director of sales at the Hilton Garden Inn (HGI) Solomons, was named HGI's Mid-Atlantic Director of Sales of the Year for 2011. Brown is also administrator and event manager for the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, National Oyster Shucking Championship and National Oyster Cook-Off. She is chair of the Tourism Advisory Council for the St. Mary's County Chamber of Commerce.
Annapolis Restaurant Week begins Feb. 20
Nearly 40 restaurants are participating in the fourth annual Annapolis Restaurant Week, Feb. 20-26. Prix-fixe menus offer two-course lunches for $15.95 and three-course dinners for $32.95. Two recently opened restaurants – Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge and Miss Shirley's Café – offer a two-course breakfast for $12.95. Free transportation around town is available aboard the City Circulator trolley. In addition to stopping at each of the four garages in town, trolley drivers will pick up passengers anywhere along the looped route.
Bowie choir headlines Black History event in Hagerstown
Hagerstown's historic Maryland Theatre – in collaboration with Friends of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum and Washington County Public Schools – presents the award-winning Bowie State University Gospel Choir in a celebration of Black History Month, Sunday, Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. (Doors open at 4 p.m.) Details and ticket information available online. To become a sponsor, call the museum, 301-797-5019, or Teresa Harmon, 301-791-4826
Bicentennial coins go on sale in early March
Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins will be available for purchase from the U.S. Mint on March 5. Surcharge proceeds from coin sales will go to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission to help fund the state's bicentennial investments. The Mint will produce 100,000 gold coins and 500,000 silver coins. A depiction of a naval battle scene from the War of 1812 is on one side of the gold coin. The reverse side has the words "O say can you see" in a reproduction of Francis Scott Key's handwriting. The silver coin has "Lady Liberty" waving the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner flag with Fort McHenry in the background. A contemporary American flag is on the other side. For information about purchasing the coins, call or e-mail Michele Coiron at 410-767-6279.