NEWS IN BRIEF
Tourism upswing propels visitor spending in state
Maryland tourists and travelers spent $13.1 billion on travel expenses in 2010 – a 4.3 percent increase over 2009 – according to a study released by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, a division of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED). The study is based on The Economic Impact of Tourism in Maryland Tourism Satellite Account as reported by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company.
Transportation and food accounted for the largest share of visitor spending, followed by spending on lodging, shopping and entertainment. The number of visitors traveling in the state has also been on the upswing. Maryland welcomed 32.2 million domestic visitors in 2010, an increase of 10.7 percent over 2009.
"Tourism continues to be a powerful economic engine for Maryland," said DBED Secretary Christian Johansson. "On average, spending from 166 visitors supports one job in Maryland – with 130,000 Marylanders directly employed in full-time tourism activities. The tourism industry not only creates and sustains jobs, it generates substantial tax revenue and business income."
Though Tourism Satellite Account data is available on a yearly basis, other performance measures – such as tourism tax codes – are available more frequently. The Comptroller's Office reported that these tax codes – in accordance with the formula used by the Tourism Promotion Act – generated $359.5 million in state sales-tax revenue during fiscal 2011. This increase of 5.1 percent over fiscal 2010 is greater than the 3.6 percent growth of overall sales-tax revenue by 40 percent.
Greg Shockley, chair of the Maryland Tourism Development Board and owner of Shenanigan's Irish Pub in Ocean City, noted that the nearly $360 million generated by tourism in sales-tax revenue represents "a return of $43 for every dollar invested in tourism funding," considering that state invested $8.3 million in general funds in fiscal 2011 for the tourism office and tourism board.
Governor's budget calls for improvements at parks
Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed capital budget for fiscal 2013 includes nearly $23 million in funding for state parks and other public-land projects.
"Today, we're proposing to invest $22.7 million from our capital budget to make much-needed improvements to our state parks – an investment that will support nearly 300 jobs in our state, help us make our parks more sustainable and support our thriving tourism industry," said Gov. O'Malley, Jan. 13, at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. Our state parks are tremendous economic engines with a $650 million annual impact on our local economies, a great resource for Maryland families, and a big part of why our tourism industry remains so strong even in tough times."
Funding includes more than $14 million in enhancements from the governor's capital budget, in addition to $8.7 million derived from the Department of Natural Resources annual transfer tax allocation for a diverse set of projects to improve infrastructure, "green" state parks and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
The Maryland Park Service has embarked on a system-wide commitment to "green" its 66 state parks – which host more than 10 million visitors each year – as models of sustainability and conservation best practices. Strategic actions to date have focused on energy improvements, new state-of-the-art green building design and construction, sustainable trails and recycling, and environmental restoration.
New plan calls for redevelopment of two northern I-95 travel plazas
The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) has approved a plan to redevelop and operate the two aging travel plazas along John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95) in northeast Maryland through a public-private partnership with Areas USA MDTP, LLC.
Pending Board of Public Works approval and a 30-day review by the Maryland General Assembly, Areas USA will invest $56 million to redesign and rebuild both the 48-year-old Maryland House and 36-year-old Chesapeake House travel plazas, and will operate and maintain the plazas through 2047. The state retains ownership and oversight of the travel plazas, while receiving revenue over the course of the agreement estimated at more than $400 million.
"By joining forces with the private sector we can generate the type of investment needed in these tough economic times that will allow us to build the infrastructure we need and create jobs," said Mary Beyer Halsey, an MDTA board member and co-chair of the committee overseeing the travel plaza initiative. "In this case, the agreement to rebuild the travel plazas will bring an estimated 400 construction jobs to our state.
View renderings of the redevelopment plans for Maryland House and Chesapeake House.
Papa John's becomes first corporate partner of SS200
Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that Papa John's has become the first founding corporate partner of Star-Spangled 200 (SS200), Inc., the nonprofit affiliate of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. The commission and SS200 are planning a multi-year commemoration of the bicentennial, starting with an international maritime festival and air show – Star-Spangled Sailabration – in June at Baltimore's Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay region.
"Maryland is the centerpiece of our nation's commemoration of the War of 1812," said Gov. O'Malley. "I'd like to thank Papa John's for supporting our state as we, the revolutionary people of Maryland, celebrate our revolutionary history."
The three-year partnership provides Papa John's with marketing, public relations, signage and advertising benefits, as well as exclusive pizza vending rights at all Star-Spangled 200 events, including Star-Spangled Sailabration, June 13-19.
"By partnering with Star-Spangled 200, Papa John's is not only promoting Maryland's state-wide commemoration, but also giving its Maryland customers a unique way to support the initiative, just by ordering their favorite pizza," said Bob Billman, operations vice president for Papa John's.
Help support the bicentennial: order online at Papa John's
- Order Papa John's pizza and get 10 percent off. Papa John's donates 10 percent of the price of the order to Star-Spangled 200. Use promo code: SS200.
- Or, order Papa John's pizza without a discount and Papa John's donates 20 percent to Star-Spangled 200. Use promo code: 1812.
- All orders must be online at www.papajohns.com. These promotions are good only for regular-priced items at Papa John's stores in Maryland.
SS200 hires Coiron to head sales of commemorative coins
Michele Coiron has joined Star-Spangled, 200, Inc. (SS200), as director of sales for the Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins. She is coordinating the marketing of the coins – to be available in early March – with the U.S. Mint. Surcharge proceeds from the coin sales will go to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission to help fund the state's bicentennial investments.
Coiron is a former executive director of the Historic Charles Street Association in Baltimore. Previously, she worked on the paper side of the graphic arts industry, managing U.S. sales territories for both a European and domestic manufacturer. A New Orleans native, she has resided in Baltimore for the past 10 years.
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.
Western Maryland winery owner leads state wineries
Richard Seibert, co-owner and managing partner of Knob Hall Winery in Washington County, was elected president of the Maryland Wineries Association. He began his term Jan. 1. The association represents 53 licensed wineries and expects to add eight more in 2012.
Knob Hall is located in Clear Spring. It had its first harvest in 2009 and completed its first bottling in 2010. Since then, the winery entered four of its wines in the annual Maryland Governor's Cup competition and won three gold medals and one "best of class."
A Hagerstown native, Seibert spent 20 years at the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, D.C., where he directed public affairs programs related to energy, the environment and natural resources. After moving to Annapolis, he established a public policy think tank that addresses energy, environmental, health and safety issues.
Seibert inherited his family's 175-acre farm, Knob Hall, in 2006. The farm has been in his family for more than 200 years. In 2007, he began planting grapes. Seibert's wife, Mary Beth, is Knob Hall's winemaker.
Tourism sales-tax revenue up nearly 6 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 5.8 percent — close to 40 percent more than the 4.2 percent rate of growth for overall sales-tax revenue through November of this fiscal year. Additionally, with an increased advertising budget, the tourism office has seen 76 percent more web advertising responses, 57 percent more print advertising responses and more than double the number of broadcast responses compared to the same time period last year.
The Maryland Lodging Monitor for 2011 is also available online. It includes Smith Travel Research data for Maryland counties and regions for the last calendar year.
||Maryland Life magazine's February issue features The Good Fight: Why the War of 1812 matters. The six-page spread includes a story by Ron Soodalter and artwork from the Maryland Historical Society. In a separate Q&A with Gov. Martin O'Malley, the governor discusses the legacy and upcoming bicentennial commemoration of the war.
Historic St. Mary's City received an Award of Merit from The Society for Historical Archaeology during the organization's 45th annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, held in Baltimore earlier this month. St. Mary's City garnered recognition for more than four decades of preserving, protecting, and interpreting Maryland's "ancient and chief seat of government" as an archaeological treasure for the public. The National Park Service had previously named St. Mary's City as "probably the most intact 17th-century English town surviving in our nation … represented entirely by archaeological resources."
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says it plans to conduct a public-opinion survey on a proposal to reintroduce elk to western Maryland, beginning in February. DNR Secretary John Griffin says the survey will cover issues ranging from the impact of elk on agriculture to potential economic benefits and tourism opportunities. The survey will focus on residents in western Maryland and a final report is expected in April.
January restaurant weeks offer new dining experiences
Explore area restaurants and new cuisines during these January restaurant weeks. Prix-fixe lunches and dinners at special prices are offered at participating restaurants. Check below locations for details.
Film festival for kids runs Jan. 28 in Frederick
The second annual Maryland International Kids FilmFest, a spin-off of the Frederick Film Festival, runs Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in downtown Frederick. Event includes animation workshops and the screening of more than 50 short films. Two Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit films – The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave – will be shown in the evening. Tickets are $10 for the day. Purchase information online.
MPT documentary takes a look at Maryland's historic barns
Maryland Public Television (MPT) broadcasts Historic Barns of Maryland: An Outdoors Maryland Special, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. The hour documentary also airs, March 10 at 5:30 p.m., March 21 at 10:30 p.m., and March 22 at 1:30 a.m. View a preview.
"Historic Barns of Maryland features interviews with farmers, builders, preservationists, architects, artists, and historians," say MPT on its web site, "and examines the construction, use, and re-purposing of these classic American structures – from the tobacco barns of the lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland and the red bank barns of the Piedmont plateau, to an innovative barn quilt project in Garrett County."
Learn where to take tour groups in Baltimore
Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA) offers tour-guide training and certification in anticipation of the War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration. Two sessions of the full-day program – March 10 and March 24 – feature local historians and scholars, and a comprehensive bus tour of Baltimore sites and attractions. Cost is $75. Program includes lunch and a Greater Baltimore History Alliance Museum pass (more than 30 participating members) valued at $150. For more information, call BNHA at 410-878-6411. Or, e-mail Shauntee Daniels at BNHA, or Chris Riehl at Baltimore Rent a Tour.