NEWS IN BRIEF
New Star-Spangled coins honor national anthem
The U.S. Mint unveiled designs for two commemorative coins – one gold, one silver – that honor the 200-year anniversary of the writing of the national anthem. Sixteen months ago, President Obama signed legislation directing the Mint to produce the coins. A portion of proceeds from coin sales – up to $8.5 million in matching funds – will help to fund Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission activities and programs.
"This coin is a great honor and the product of years of hard work in an extremely competitive process," said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "It will help raise much-needed funds so we can properly celebrate the role Marylanders played in our nation's fight to victory and share that rich history with the rest of the country." Ruppersberger and Sen. Benjamin Cardin introduced the legislation in the House and Senate.
The Mint will produce 100,000 gold coins and 500,000 silver coins. Prices for the coins will be announced in early 2012; coins go on sale in March and will only be sold in 2012.
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.
Make your own Maryland travel resolutions for 2012
Looking ahead to places to see and things to do in Maryland during 2012, two historical commemorations figure prominently: the bicentennial of the War of 1812 begins in June and events that mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War continue throughout the year.
"The commemorations are headliners," says Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism. "And, they are gateways for experiencing more of what the state has to offer. Visitors who tour the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, for instance, will be in an area that's home to a cluster of wineries in Frederick and Carroll counties. They could also see the 'Bridges of Washington County' – 22 stone-arch bridges and aqueducts that are close to or in the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
"This is an opportune time to consider the variety of destinations available in our state," Amelia adds. "We encourage residents and visitors, alike, to enjoy authentic Maryland experiences throughout the upcoming year."
2012 calendar highlights 1812, Civil War events
The new Maryland Calendar of Events – a comprehensive listing of what's going on each month across the state – highlights events tied to the Maryland War of 1812 bicentennial and the continuation of the Civil War sesquicentennial, such as the Star-Spangled Sailabration in June and Maryland, My Maryland (a major re-enactment of the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam) in September.
The 2012 calendar also includes listings for welcome centers, local tourism offices and farmers' markets. It will soon be available at the welcome centers and tourism offices, and online. Or, call 800-719-5900 to order this free magazine-style publication. For additional tourism information, order the state's official travel guide, Destination Maryland (view a flipbook online), and subscribe to the Maryland Office of Tourism's monthly e-newsletter.
Among its findings: Sales tax revenue from tourism tax codes grew 5.4 percent — one and a half points more than the 3.9 percent growth for overall sales-tax revenue for sales through October of this fiscal year. Additionally, with an increased advertising budget, the tourism office has seen 87 percent more web advertising responses, 59 percent more print advertising responses, and more than double the number of broadcast responses compared to the same time period last year.
Tourism front-liners get updates for 2012
Nearly 50 participants – representing state and county welcome centers, and the BWI Pathfinders volunteers program – attended the second Travel Information Center Workshop of 2011, Dec. 13, where they heard updated plans from members of the Maryland Office of Tourism concerning tourism events and marketing. The group also discussed visitor trends, service issues and other topical subjects. Participants came from all five regions of Maryland: Western Maryland, Capital Region, Central Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Evaluations were collected and will be used to structure similar workshops in 2012. View larger image.
Tourism sales-tax revenue up 5 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.
New poll cites Hyatt among best Baltimore places to work
Hyatt Regency Baltimore was recently named one of "Baltimore's Top 75 Workplaces" in a Baltimore Sun study of regional businesses. The hotel placed second in the mid-size employers (150-399 employees) category. It also ranked first in the "Direction" category for companies of any size. "Direction" refers to a company's leadership and values, and to what degree staff members endorse the direction of their company. Located in the city's Inner Harbor, Hyatt has 220 employees who serve more than 150,000 guests annually.
Celebrate New Year's across Maryland
Bring in 2012 at the free New Year's Eve Spectacular, Saturday, Dec. 31, starting at 9 p.m. at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Event includes live music and fireworks. Also on New Year's Eve, First Night Talbot in downtown Easton features a celebration of the arts, parades and "crab drops" at midnight. Annapolis New Year's Eve Celebration runs from 3 p.m. through midnight at the town's City Dock. It offers children's activities, "dancing under the stars" and fireworks. And, in Western Maryland, Cumberland presents a New Year's Eve Ball Drop amid other festivities.
Start the year on the right (or left) foot
Get some exercise and fresh air after your New Year's Eve celebration. America's State Parks promotes 350 First Day Hikes throughout the country as opportunities "to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home." The advocacy organization lists 17 official First Day Hike events in Maryland, from the Eastern Shore across to Western Maryland.
Weekend events recall Civil War's Battle of Hancock
The Washington County town of Hancock marks the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War with a series of events, Jan. 5-8, 2012. An opening ceremony that features a musical presentation by the Spring Chamber Ensemble takes place at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. Other events include: a performance by the Hancock Arts Council's Civil War string band on Jan. 6; a 5-K run/walk, followed by speakers, artillery demonstrations and a band concert on Jan. 7; and a memorial service for Civil War soldiers buried in St. Thomas' cemetery.
Advocate for tourism at Taste of Maryland
The Maryland Tourism Council and the Restaurant Association of Maryland, in conjunction with the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations and the Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association, present the 22nd annual Taste of Maryland Legislative Reception, Jan. 16, 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Loews Annapolis. Event includes complimentary beverages provided by MillerCoors and the Maryland Wineries Association. For more information, call or e-mail Jennie Silver, 410-290-6800, ext. 1022. Tickets are also available online. Tickets include admission to three sessions of seminars that begin in the afternoon.