Maryland Office of Tourism Announces Annual Tourism Award Winners

Four winners announced at annual Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit


Leslie Troy,
Connie Spindler,
Matthew Scales,


BALTIMORE, MD (November 7, 2019) – The 2019 Maryland Tourism Awards were presented today at the 39th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit in Allegany County, Maryland. The awards, given by the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism Development (OTD) and the Maryland Tourism Development Board (MTDB), recognize excellence and major contributions in expanding the market of Maryland tourism products, maximizing opportunities to generate overnight stays, leveraging partnerships, and showcasing Maryland as an exciting, must-see tourism destination.

Tom Riford, Assistant Secretary of Tourism, Film, Arts, Marketing and Communications at Maryland Commerce; Captain Judy Bixler, owner of the Oxford-Bellvue Ferry and MTDB Board Chair; and Liz Fitzsimmons, Managing Director of Maryland Commerce’s Division of Tourism and Film, presented the awards during a luncheon at the conference.

“Tourism is a very important Maryland industry, and it provides significant economic impact for our state,” said Assistant Secretary Riford. “I am honored to help present the 2019 Maryland Tourism Awards, which recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our tourism partners who support the collective mission of increasing visitor spending in Maryland.”

“The Maryland Tourism Awards showcase the influential people, programs and organizations that have made an economic impact on our state by encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more here,” said Fitzsimmons.

The award categories and winners are:

Market Expansion Award: Awarded to Maryland’s Tastiest Catch for successfully a producing a new tourism product to expand an existing demographic and geographic market.

  • Maryland’s Tastiest Catch is a marketing campaign of the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area. A cookbook of regional favorites and house specialties gathered from local inns and restaurants is interspersed with stories of life on the Chesapeake. Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties targeted sophisticated heritage travelers who research shows travel more frequently and spend more than other travelers, and who are especially intrigued by the history behind the food they consume.  

Maximizing Opportunities Award: The recipients of this award are recognized for successfully taking advantage of an existing event to generate overnight stays. The award is presented to the 20th Annual Potomac Jazz & Seafood Festival.

  • The 20th Annual Potomac Jazz & Seafood Festival expanded from a one-day Saturday event into a three-day weekend affair by partnering with the Town of Leonardtown, The Friends of St. Clement’s Island & Piney Point Museums, and Visit St. Mary’s MD.  Hotel package giveaways, free Friday night jazz performances on the town square, Prohibition-era movies, cocktails and restaurant specials, new and unique food vendors at the Saturday waterfront festival, and Sunday jazz brunches all combined to increase hotel occupancy rates an average of 20 percent for the weekend.

Transactionable Outcomes Award: Garrett County Chamber received this award for successfully creating tourism packages to steadily bring in revenue during their off-seasons.

  • 3-2-1 Lodging and Activity Program is a bi-annual promotion designed by Chamber members to increase visitation during spring and fall season: stay three nights for the price of two and purchase one discounted activity. Since 2012 when the promotion began, March-May collections have increased by 52 percent and October-December collections have increased by 37.5 percent.

Leveraging Partnerships Award: This award is presented to Eat.Drink.Buy Art Campaign for successfully identifying and packaging complimentary assets in the Delmarva’s Main Streets and Arts & Entertainment Districts in order to drive revenue with overnight stays.

  • Eat.Drink.Buy Art Campaign provides a comprehensive online guide that connects art lovers, foodies and visitors to 18 mostly rural Eastern Shore towns with local artists, art venues, restaurants, breweries, wineries and events. This marketing partnership resulted in doubling website users, more than 71,000 views of themed YouTube videos and increased social media activity, including a whopping 333 percent increase on Instagram.  

The Maryland Tourism Awards are open to all individuals, private businesses, governmental agencies 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 of Commerce. Visitors to the state spent $18.1 billion on travel-related expenses in 2018. The Maryland tourism industry also generated $2.5 billion in state and local taxes, and provided Marylanders with more than 150,000 jobs. For more information, visit