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Title: New Study Shows Baltimore County Poised for Significant Tourism Expansion

Baltimore County is well-positioned to significantly increase the economic impact of tourism in the County, and should step up marketing and promotion efforts in order to attract more visitors and maximize its potential according to a new study (PDF) conducted by Johnson Consulting for the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development.

Citing Baltimore County’s strong foundation of resources and assets, the study projects that expanded investments and strategic improvements to the tourism sector of Baltimore County could generate approximately $7 billion in tourism spending over a 10-year period.

“The results of this study could not make it more clear: Baltimore County can—and should—be a world-class tourist destination and I’m committed to making that a reality,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “Baltimore County must do more to take advantage of our vibrant, diverse opportunities so that we can expand economic opportunity in every community and transform our County into the destination we know it can be.”

While Baltimore County is a large, diverse community which boasts a number of historical sites and unique attractions and a convenient location to waterfront, the Johnson Consulting study found that the County is behind other markets in terms of amenities like bike and hiking trails, regional performing arts, convention-expo facilities and sports-recreational facilities.

The study performed a comprehensive economic and market analysis of Baltimore County’s tourism sector and made a number of recommendations to improve the County’s competitive tourism position and enhance the County’s tourism products and assets, including:

  • Expanding the role of Baltimore County’s Office of Tourism within the County Department of Economic and Workforce Development with an increase in dedicated full-time staffing
  • Creating Arts and Cultural Districts to create subarea identities in the County
  • Leveraging Baltimore County’s unique access to waterways and existing historical and heritage assets to distinguish Baltimore County from its regional competitors
  • Promoting Baltimore County’s emerging Craft Brewery and Winery industry, including promoting the new Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House
  • Supporting the expansion of and upgrades to the Maryland State Fairgrounds to expand operations and annual economic impacts
  • Increasing hotel revenue to directly support marketing and branding of the hotels in the County in order to lengthen the stay of current visitors and attract new visitors
  • Commissioning a Financial Feasibility Study to explore the development of an amateur sports complex which could generate annual economic impacts of $25 to $30 million
  • Enhancing the role of the Baltimore County Tourism and Promotion Advisory Council to provide stronger oversight on agency strategic and annual destination marketing-business plans with required budget levels and to increase ongoing communications with visitor industry and community tourism leaders. This effort should engage the State’s existing marketing efforts and leverage grant funds that can be earned from the State.

To accomplish these recommendations, Baltimore County must embrace the emerging tourism industry as a fundamental pillar of economic development for the County.

“We’re thrilled to see that the new administration understands the clear ROI that investing in tourism can bring to Baltimore County’s tax base. We’re clearly entering a new era in economic development in our County,” said Hal Ashman, Chairman of the Baltimore County Tourism and Promotion Advisory Council. “Our tourism stakeholders, which represent hotels, restaurants, craft, marine trades, waterfront industry, and arts and cultural interests, are excited to work beside the County Executive to move Baltimore County into the next generation of tourism success.”

County Executive Olszewski is carefully reviewing this study ahead of submitting his first budget on Monday, April 15.

Review the complete study (PDF) and other reports and publications on the Department of Economic and Workforce Development website.

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Revised September 11, 2017