NEWS IN BRIEF
Maryland tourism on upswing, national report shows
Maryland welcomed 34.4 million domestic travelers in 2011 – an increase of 6.8 percent over 2010 and a 26 percent increase over 2007 when 27.2 million visitors came to the state. The new information is from a national survey of U.S. travelers conducted by D.K. Shifflet and Associates, a leading tourism-industry research firm.
"Our state's tourism industry is a powerful economic engine," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "Tourism is a major generator of jobs, employing nearly 130,000 Marylanders. The impact of visitors proves that our investments in visitor experiences provide valuable returns to tourism communities across the state, from Oakland to Ocean City."
Growth has occurred in all segments – business and leisure, and both day trips and overnights. Maryland has also increased its market share 16.9 percent since 2007, outperforming national and regional trends during challenging economic times.
"This report underscores the success of our strategic regional promotional efforts," said Margot A. Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism. "We focused our tourism marketing efforts on key feeder markets in FY2008, and began to communicate year-round to prospective visitors through a variety of digital and traditional channels. An image and awareness study in 2009 with prospective visitors ensures we promote our most motivating messages."
Tourism, SHA introduce new Scenic Byways guides
Two new magazine-style publications – a map and a guidebook – for Maryland's 18 scenic byways were recently released by the Maryland Office of Tourism and State Highway Administration at an Aug. 9 news conference held at the B&O Museum in Ellicott City.
The two state agencies produced the 64-page guide and companion map in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways Program. Byways are driving tours and routes that reflect distinct themes, such as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad (Eastern Shore), Religious Freedom Tour (Southern Maryland) and Antietam Campaign (Capital Region and Western Maryland). In Maryland, these routes span nearly 2,500 miles.
"Driving tours are extremely popular among travelers in Maryland and this publication will guide them through some of the most picturesque and historic landmarks in the state," said Melinda B. Peters, state highway administrator.
The guidebook includes information about restaurants, accommodations, gas stations and ATMs along each route. Both the guidebook and map are available at state welcome centers and county visitor centers, through the tourism office's web site (VisitMaryland.org), or by calling 866-MD-WELCOME.
SHA's Maryland Scenic Byways Program administers Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds for planning, interpretation, promotion, enhancements and preservation projects along the state's 18 scenic byways.
(Photo) Speakers at the Aug. 9 news conference in Ellicott City: Melinda Peters, administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration; Terry Chaconas, representative of Courtney Watson, Howard County Council; Margot Amelia, executive director, Maryland Office of Tourism; Bob Henig, owner, Bob's BMW; and Hannah Byron, assistant secretary, Maryland Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts.
Feature film with Sarandon to begin shooting in Ocean City
Filming of Ping Pong Summer – an independent production written and directed by Maryland native Michael Tully and starring Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris and John Hannah – begins in Ocean City in September. The six-week production schedule, says the Maryland Film Office, could require the local hiring of 90 crew members, actors and extras, and the purchase or rental of goods and services from more than 140 Maryland businesses. This would result in an economic impact of $2 million for the state.
"Working together with our partners from Worcester County and Ocean City," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, "we were able to secure this film that will strengthen our state's economy, create jobs and highlight one of Maryland's most family-friendly vacation destinations."
"For 20 years I have fantasized about making Ping Pong Summer in Ocean City," said Tully about his coming-of-age comedy. "Now, thanks to the efforts of the state of Maryland, Worcester County, Ocean City and many enthusiastic people in Maryland, the time has come. I am grateful and excited to be able to re-create the summer vacation of my dreams on film in Ocean City."
Maryland's Film Production Employment Act of 2011 was an incentive for shooting the film in the state. The fund offers a partial tax credit for local production expenditures and encourages producers to use local film crews.
New leadership, members take positions at arts council
The 17-member Maryland State Arts Council has new officers and three new members, as of July. Barbara Bershon, a council member since 2008, was elected chair of the council. Bershon is executive director of the Chesapeake Orchestra and has served as arts outreach coordinator for the River Concert Series at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Chesapeake Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the series.
Carol Trawick, co-founder of the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation in Bethesda, is the council's new vice-chair. Trawick joined the council one year ago. And, Lora Bottinelli, executive director of Salisbury University's Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, is secretary-treasurer of the council. Bottinelli also joined the council in July 2011.
New members who were appointed in July are: Carla Du Pree, a fiction writer who is creative director of the Howard County Poetry & Literature Society; Kathy O'Dell, associate dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at University of Maryland Baltimore County; and Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council.
The governor appoints 13 of the Maryland State Arts Councilors to their positions. And, the two leaders of the Maryland General Assembly – the senate president and house speaker – each appoint two members. The arts council, part of the Maryland Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, is an agency of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
TV campaign, mobile app promote Maryland tourism
Two Maryland Office of Tourism TV commercials – promoting the state's 18 scenic byways and four Civil War driving tours – are now running on network and cable television during a three-week timeframe that ends Sept. 2. The commercials are airing in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia in early-morning, prime and weekend time slots. The TV creative and media buy are similar to the Sailabration efforts in June.
The state tourism office also plans to unveil a Civil War mobile application, designed to connect visitors using mobile devices with events, programs, businesses and services along Maryland's Civil War Trails. It will be introduced at the Sept. 4 world-premiere screening of Heart of the Civil War at the Weinberg Center in Frederick. See upcoming event below.
View the two commercials – Scenic Byways and Civil War – on YouTube.
Submit nominations for Maryland Tourism Awards
Nominations for the 2012 Maryland Tourism Awards — as selected by the Office of Tourism and the Maryland Tourism Development Board — will be accepted until Sept. 24. Award categories are: Green/Sustainable Tourism; Visit Maryland (promotion of the state as a travel destination); Cultural/Heritage Tourism; and Economic Engine.
The awards pay tribute to individuals, organizations, businesses or governmental agencies that have significantly contributed to the efforts of the tourism office and board to boost jobs and economic impact in Maryland's tourism industry, and enhance the state's image to travelers. Winners will be announced at the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit, Nov. 15 in Cambridge. Details about the award program and a nomination form are available online. For more information, call or e-mail Jennifer Jones, 410-767-6296.
Grand Prix of Baltimore revs up for Labor Day
Tickets for the Grand Prix of Baltimore — Labor Day weekend — are available on the race's web site (www.RaceOnBaltimore.com) or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Last year, more than 150,000 fans attended the first-ever Grand Prix race in the city.
General admission tickets are $15 for Friday, Aug. 31, $50 for Saturday, Sept. 1, $55 for the day of the race, Sunday, Sept. 2. A three-day general admission ticket is $85. Reserved seat packages, which include reserved seating on Saturday and Sunday, are also available. Paddock passes — $40 for one day, $65 for three days — give fans access into the Baltimore Convention Center to see race cars and crews.
The Andretti Club offers another ticket option, a VIP hospitality package that includes: exclusive indoor/outdoor viewing opportunities, passes for each day of the Grand Prix, reserved grandstand seats near the start/finish line, food and beverage for each day (including beer and wine), paddock passes, special Q&A sessions with current and former drivers, concierge services and other exclusive insider access. For more information about the club, e-mail Kristina Beese, or call the Grand Prix of Baltimore office, 443-759-4301.
Md. lodging revenue up more than 4 percent in first half of 2012
The latest issue of the Maryland Lodging Monitor – the Office of Tourism's bi-annual report on Maryland lodging data supplied by Smith Travel Research, Inc., is available online.
Among its findings: Statewide performance metrics for January to June in 2012– room demand, room supply, room revenue, room rate and occupancy – increased over the same time period in 2011. Every region saw positive growth in room demand, room revenue and occupancy.
Baltimore City and the counties of Baltimore, Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Prince George's, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester saw positive growth in room demand, room revenue, room rate and occupancy.
1812 visitor center opens in Bladensburg
The Battle of Bladensburg Visitors Center in Prince George's County has its grand opening, Friday, Aug. 24 – exactly 198 years after British forces overran local militia in the town during the War of 1812, en route to sacking Washington, D.C. Located in Bladensburg Waterfront Park on the Anacostia River, the new center highlights events that occurred in the area during the war. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily. On Saturday, Aug. 25, noon to 5 p.m., the center will be a focal point for a Battle of Bladensburg bicentennial commemoration, featuring re-enactments, live music and family activities. For more information, call 301-779-0371.
North Point, Fort McHenry mark 1814 resistance to British
Marylanders have traditionally celebrated the "Old Defenders" who repelled British forces at the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814 – the opening of the Battle of Baltimore, a pivotal clash in the war. Defenders Day at North Point – presented by the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society – is Sept. 2 at Fort Howard Park, 9500 North Point Road in eastern Baltimore County. The park opens at 9 a.m. for a day of living-history sessions, re-enacted battles and encampments, and public ceremonies. Fort McHenry's Star-Spangled Banner Weekend, Sept. 7-9, commemorates the Battle of Baltimore and Francis Scott Key's writing of The Star-Spangled Banner with re-enactments, parades, military bands and fireworks.
Frederick hosts world premiere of Civil War film
Heart of the Civil War, a Maryland Public Television (MPT) documentary, screens for the first time on Sept. 4, 7 p.m., at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick. The film depicts the border-state experience of Marylanders during the Civil War. It airs on public TV a week later. The Federal City Brass Band opens the Sept. 4 program with a presentation of period music. Event is free and open to public. RSVPs are appreciated. The Tourism Council of Frederick County produced the film in partnership with MPT and with support from the National Scenic Byways Program and Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.
Taste Maryland wine at September festival
More than 30 wineries from across the state will participate in the 29th annual Maryland Wine Festival, Sept. 15-16 at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. The festival features wine tastings, live music, local-restaurant fare, arts and crafts vendors, and wine seminars. Advance tickets are available online. A first-time festival event, The Wine Down 5K, is Sunday morning, Sept. 16, on the grounds of the Farm Museum. The wine festival is held rain or shine. For information about Maryland wineries and events, call 800-237-WINE.