2015 Tourism Award Recipients Recognized at Maryland’s Tourism & Travel Summit

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Connie Yingling,
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Leslie Troy,
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BALTIMORE (October 29) – The Maryland Office of Tourism Development (OTD) – an agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce – and the Maryland Tourism Development Board (MTDB) presented their 2015 Maryland Tourism Awards at the 35th annual Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit in Ellicott City, Maryland. The awards recognize excellence and major contributions in cultural heritage tourism, sports travel, economic impact, and elevating Maryland’s image as a tourism destination.

Commerce Secretary Mike Gill and MTDB Chair Greg Shockley made the presentations during a luncheon at the conference.

“I am proud to present the 2015 Maryland Tourism Awards," said Secretary Gill. "Tourism is an important economic driver and today we recognize the outstanding achievements of our tourism partners who support OTD and MTDB in fulfilling their mission of increasing visitor expenditures to the state.”

“These awards pay tribute to programs and organizations that have ramped up their performance and significantly contributed revenue to the state,” said Shockley.

The award categories and the winners are:

Cultural Heritage Tourism Award:  The recipients of this award are recognized for outstanding investments and contributions in stewardship and/or development of Maryland’s cultural heritage product and engagement in regional and statewide tourism initiatives.

Lincoln 150 Commemoration: On the Trail of an Assassin: The Charles County Government Office of Tourism worked with an array of government agencies, tourism industry partners and the media to promote the Lincoln 150 Commemoration Weekend events that took place April 17-19, 2015. The three-month marketing campaign targeted the cultural heritage tourist and featured anchor events held at the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House in Waldorf and the recently acquired Rich Hill Farm in Bel Alton. The campaign encompassed print, billboards, social media, cable and TV interviews and a landing webpage with hotel discounts; the campaign dovetailed with the Maryland Office of Tourism’s special interest brochure, John Wilkes Booth Escape of an Assassin Trail.

Tourism Partnership Award: Awarded to innovative partnerships that advance regional product development, marketing initiatives, programming or events and that result in significant contributions to Maryland’s tourism industry. 

Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA): Ocean City, Wicomico County and Worcester County formed MAASA in spring 2014 to link and leverage their combined assets to “attract, retain and build sports marketing events, with a focus on amateur athletics, to establish a national reputation and grow the region’s economic impact.” Since their inception, the region has successfully hosted two national girls’ softball tournaments and the ISSA Eastern Shore senior softball championship. These three MAASA events combined for a total of more than 25,000 hotel room nights booked and $40 million in estimated economic impact.

Sports Tourism Award:  The recipients of this award are recognized for outstanding investments and contributions that increase sports-related visitation; and that elevate Maryland as a sports and recreation destination.

Deep Creek 2014 and the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships: Held September 17-21, 2014, Deep Creek 2014 hosted the ICF Canoe and Slalom World Championships at the Adventure Sports Centre International (ASCI) in McHenry, Maryland representing a return of this Olympic sport to the USA after a 25-year break when they were held on the Savage River in Western Maryland. Over the course of the multi-day event, 42 nations sent more than 390 athletes and team support staff to participate. Ticket sales increased 45.6 percent compared to attendance in Prague in 2013 where the sport is far more popular. Media coverage consisted of 94 international, national and regional media outlets. Domestic broadcast outlets included Universal Sports and NBC Sports, which reported close to one million viewers, valued at more than $500,000 in comparable ad value. Accommodation revenue increased 17 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013 and state sales tax increased seven and a half percent for the month-to-month comparison.

Visit Maryland Award: The major goal of the Maryland Office of Tourism is to increase tourism revenue from its visitors.  The recipient of this award has demonstrated outstanding investment and performance in improving and promoting Maryland’s image as a travel destination.

Escape to Talbot County Rebranding Campaign:  Previously marketed as the “Hamptons of the Chesapeake Bay,” the Talbot County Office of Tourism examined current travel trends and assessed the area’s assets to come up with a new direction for their marketing efforts. Transcending audience segmentation, this rebranding captures a traveler’s desire to put aside their day-to-day routine and embrace an authentic Chesapeake experience. Topped by an elegant hand-drawn logo that evokes both wind and water, messages to visitors outside of the region encourage “Escape to Talbot County, On Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay”; for the drive-in market, the message becomes “Short Drive, Long Memories”; and international markets have the added tagline of “Small Town America at its Best.” As part of the rebranding efforts, a new Escape to Talbot County Facebook page was launched mid-year 2014; the page went from zero followers to 5,000 in one year. A redesigned tourtalbot.org website was launched (the first update since 1999) and analytics show that unique visitors have more than doubled.

Economic Engine Award: Awarded for job creation; positive economic impact to the region and state; and exemplary contributions to Maryland’s tourism industry. 

Merriweather Post Pavilion: Located mid-way between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore on 40-acres of preserved land in the heart of Columbia, Maryland, Merriweather Post Pavilion has been bringing chart-topping entertainers along with their entourages and legions of fans since its 1967 opening concert. Ninety-two percent of Merriweather’s guests arrive from outside of the county, and nearly half travel from outside of Maryland. In general, Merriweather directly employs more than 1,125 people each season (full-time part-time and seasonal staff); many of these are first jobs for local high school and college students. Overall economic impact (includes ancillary spending and tax revenue) is estimated to exceed $13 million annually. The 40-year old facility is scheduled to undergo $19 million of improvements, all the while keeping the charm and stature of renowned architect Frank Gehry, significantly increasing job creation and economic impact in the construction field.

The Maryland Tourism Awards are open to all individuals, private businesses and non-profit organizations offering a tourism product or service in Maryland.  A panel of judges representing Maryland’s tourism community reviews each nomination.

About Maryland Tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department Commerce. Visitors to the state spent $16.4 billion on travel-related expenses in 2014. The Maryland tourism industry also generated $2.2 billion in state and local taxes and provided 140,288 jobs.

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