NEWS IN BRIEF
CRUSA pitches media in England, Scotland
Capital Region USA (CRUSA) – the international marketing arm for the regional tourism industry in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. – conducted a media mission to the UK, March 13-18. Members of the CRUSA contingent met with representatives of major print, broadcast and online media outlets in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester. They also hosted a media event aboard the Orient Express train Northern Belle between Manchester and Wales.
“The UK media were extremely receptive and eager to learn more about the Capital Region as a travel destination,” said Camila Clark, public relations manager for the Maryland Office of Tourism. “We anticipate significant coverage in coming months. Our pitches focused on the War of 1812 bicentennial, the Civil War sesquicentennial, the emerging Harriet Tubman story and the scenic byways in the region.”
Media outlets on the CRUSA itinerary included: ITV, Real Radio, Sunday Herald, Sunday Mail, Scottish Sunday Express, The Scottish Sun, Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Post, Smooth Operations, Jewish Telegraph, Trinity Mirror Group, Sainsbury's magazine and Sheffield Star.
In addition to Clark, CRUSA participants were: Susan Steckman, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau; Julia Scott, Virginia Tourism Corp.; Alicia Malone, Destination D.C.; and Lisa Cooper, KBC PR (CRUSA's public relations agency in the U.K.).
Civil War campaign nets award for CRUSA's UK agency
KBC, the public relations and marketing agency that Capital Region USA (CRUSA) uses in the UK, received a 2012 Travel Marketing Award for its work in promoting Civil War-related tourism in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. CRUSA is the international marketing arm for the Capital Region.
The Silver (second place) award was in the Best PR Strategic Campaign category. KBC prompted UK media outlets to visit the Capital Region and produce travel stories that featured Civil War tie-ins, evoking the 150-year anniversary of the American conflict.
KBC also persuaded Travel Channel UK to film in the Capital Region and produce a travelogue that highlights Civil War attractions and destinations. Camila Clark and Kathi Ash, of the Maryland Office of Tourism, worked with a Travel Channel crew to secure locations for filming. The end result was On the Trail of the American Civil War, which first aired in April 2011. It will continue to be shown periodically in 2012 and 2013. The program is reaching more than 59 million households in 118 countries.
KBC estimates the total media value to date of the CRUSA Civil War outreach to be approximately $4.6 million, with a return on investment of 315:1.
Sales of 1812 coins off to 'good start'
The U.S. Mint has sold nearly 117,000 new 2012 Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins during the first three weeks of sales. Coins will be available for purchase through mid-December this year.
“Weekly numbers from the Mint and our own experience this past weekend at the Whitman Baltimore Expo (a regional coin show) have indicated growing popularity for these coins,” said Michele Coiron, director of commemorative coin sales at Star-Spangled 200, Inc., a nonprofit affiliate of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. “We feel we're off to a good start.”
The state Commission can receive up to $8.5 million in surcharges (built into the price of the coins) from the Mint to help support bicentennial activities and educational outreach, and preserve sites and structures with War of 1812 significance.
In 2010, President Obama signed into law a measure – co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger – that authorized the Mint to issue the coins in commemoration of the upcoming 200-year anniversary of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner.
The Mint will issue up to 100,000 $5 gold coins and 500,000 $1 silver coins. Collectors can obtain both the gold and silver coins in proof and uncirculated condition. A proof silver dollar is $54.95, with an introductory price of $49.95 available through April 5. The uncirculated silver dollar is $49.95, or $44.95 through April 5.
Costs of the proof and uncirculated gold coins, and the two-coin (gold and silver) set, are based on the Mint's pricing structure for numismatic commemorative products containing gold, which can be viewed online. For more information about purchasing the coins, visit the U.S. Mint online; or call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468); TTY: 1-888-321-MINT (6468).
Baltimore hotel executive joins Tourism Board
Gail Smith-Howard, general manager of Hyatt Regency Baltimore, was appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley to the Maryland Tourism Development Board for a three-year term.
A resident of Howard County, Smith-Howard began her professional career as a housekeeping manager at the Grand Hyatt New York. She subsequently worked for Hyatt in Kansas City, Chicago and Cambridge (Mass.). Between 1990 and 1992, she was rooms executive for both the Hyatt Regency Baltimore and the Grand Hyatt Washington, and during the next two years, she was regional rooms executive at the Grand Hyatt Washington.
From 1994 to 2004, Smith-Howard was general manager of the Hyatt Regency Fair Lakes (Va.), where she guided the complete renovation of an aging hotel. She was named Hyatt's Manager of the Year in 2004 after being nominated for the award four times. Since 2005, Smith-Howard has been in her present position at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore.
At the start of this year, Smith-Howard received a Power at the Front Door award during the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers annual Trumpet Awards event, held in Atlanta. Trumpet Awards honor the achievement and leadership of African-American hotel general managers.
Laurel facility hosts international curling tournament
Curling teams from around the world will travel to Maryland for the International Curling Fellowship of Rotarians World Championships, April 1-6 at the National Capital Curling Center (home of the Potomac Curling Club) and the adjacent Gardens Ice House in Prince George's County. The tournament, or bonspiel, which occurs every two years, has not been in the U.S. since 2004, and it comes to the mid-Atlantic region for the first time.
“Bringing in a competition like this epitomizes our mission of enticing regional, national and international sporting events to the state,” said Terry Hasseltine, director, Maryland Office of Sports Marketing. “Though curling is a relatively low-profile sport, several hundred international visitors will likely be coming to Maryland for the first time. It's a great opportunity to showcase our state as a world-class destination.”
Hasseltine's office coordinates the collective marketing of the state to all realms of the sports industry through TEAM Maryland – a statewide program that melds the efforts of individual counties into a single, cohesive approach to attracting sporting events. Currently, 10 counties have joined TEAM Maryland through their tourism offices.
Main Streets group holds conference in Baltimore
The 2012 National Main Streets Conference convenes April 1-4 at the Hilton Baltimore, near the city's Inner Harbor. Presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the conference features presentations regarding Main Streets in urban settings, along with educational sessions that address trends and strategies for community revitalization.
Conference participants will also explore Main Street communities in Baltimore and Cambridge (Dorchester County). The Cambridge Main Street tour allows visitors to see a revitalized downtown along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.
Another tour, led by the Maryland State Arts Council, takes a group to three of Maryland's arts and entertainment districts: Bethesda and Silver Spring (Montgomery County), and Gateway (Prince George's County). Baltimore's Station North – the state's first designated A&E district – also hosts a tour.
A recent economic-impact study released by the Arts Council revealed that Maryland's A&E districts supported more than 1,600 jobs and nearly $50 million in wages on average each year between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2010.
Main Street Maryland, a program created by Maryland Housing and Community Development, includes 23 communities. The program partners with Baltimore Main Streets.
Tourism sales-tax revenue up more than 7 percent over last year
The latest issue of the Maryland Tourism Monitor — the Office of Tourism's monthly report on measures for visitation and marketing, tourism-related sales taxes and leisure and hospitality jobs — is available online.
Among its findings: Sales-tax revenue from tourism tax codes grew 7.6 percent — close to 60 percent more than the 4.8 percent rate of growth for overall sales-tax revenue through January of this fiscal year. Additionally, with an increased advertising budget, the tourism office has seen 67 percent more web advertising responses, 49 percent more print advertising responses and more than double the number of broadcast responses compared to the same time period last year.
Social-media outreach by tourism office features videos
The Maryland Office of Tourism is creating YouTube videos that correspond to its monthly Spotlight campaign, a program that highlights a different aspect of Maryland travel each month. Upcoming videos will focus on Maryland's beer industry, public gardens, charter fishing and the legacy of the Civil War. For more information, call or e-mail Bryan Barnes, interactive services coordinator, 410-767-0169
Frederick museums ring in new season
Frederick County's Bell & History Day – the opening of the county's museum season – is Saturday, March 31. Participating museums and historic sites offer complimentary admission, along with an assortment of special events and living-history programs. The day starts with the ringing of the Frederick County History Bell at the county's visitor center, 151 S. East St. in Frederick. Free guided trolley tours leave the center on the hour between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The free Bell & History Handbell Festival – a concert with seven bell ensembles in solo and joined performances – follows on Sunday, April 1, at 5 p.m., at the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg.
Continental soldiers prepare for battle at Fort Frederick
Fort Frederick State Park – site of the star-shaped fort that served as Maryland's frontier defense during the French and Indian War – opens its season March 31 and April 1 with living-history demonstrations by Revolutionary War soldier re-enactors. Located 18 miles west of Hagerstown in Big Pool (Washington County), the park is in an area that includes the Western Maryland Rail Trail and Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park also passes through Fort Frederick. For more information, call the park at 301-842-2155.
Western Maryland museum honors Civil War
Allegany Museum in Cumberland has unveiled a new Civil War exhibit in tribute to the war's 150-year anniversary. The exhibit, which runs to April 24, features three dioramas: a hospital scene, cavalry scene and campsite scene. Each scene includes Civil War memorabilia, photos and historical maps. A set of 48 DVDs relating to the war era are available for viewing. The museum, located in a renovated space at 3 Pershing St., is in the Canal Place Heritage Area, Maryland's first certified heritage area. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10-4, and Sunday, 1-4.