Nora Campbell Wins Tourism Person of the Year 2023

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National Aquarium Employee Nora Campbell Awarded “Tourism Person of the Year” at the Conference Banquet

Owings Mills (November 15, 2023) – Over 300 tourism and hospitality professionals from around the state gathered for the 42nd Annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit (MTTS) at the Owings Mills Marriott, November 8-10, 2023. Sponsored and managed by the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), this yearly summit brought together hundreds of private and public sector tourism employees and provided them with professional development seminars, networking events and opportunities for individuals to learn from experts and industry leaders on how best to incorporate innovative strategies to benefit Maryland. Brain Beall, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism and Director of the National Travel and Tourism Office was in attendance along with many other business leaders and tourism experts. As part of the conference, there was a Welcoming Reception held at Maryland Public Television and an awards banquet held at the Marriott Owings Mills. Attendees hailed from various arenas including hotel/motel, attractions, museums, transportation, arts and culture, Destination Management Organizations, tours, restaurants and sports organizations, among others. The summit was hosted by Marriott Owings Mills Metro Centre, Maryland Tourism Coalition, Maryland Office of Tourism and Enjoy Baltimore County.

“Tourism is an integral part of our state economy and it’s back stronger than ever. This summit affords us an opportunity to not only come together as professionals and learn from each other but to also to be better educated about important trends and economic factors that will affect what we do every day in order that we may all move forward together to make the industry even more vital and vibrant. This year, we welcomed 88 new conference attendees and 15 new sponsors to give us 54 total sponsors. That is 9 more than last year!” said Ruth Toomey, Executive Director, MTC.

On Thursday evening, an awards banquet was held and MTC recognized the very best work in the industry, including a special “Tourism Person of the Year.” Nora Campbell, a National Aquarium in Baltimore employee, was awarded this honor for her tireless dedication to her job, for her commitment to the tourism industry and partner organizations, for being an integral model of positivity throughout the pandemic, for her willingness to pitch in when needed to make things go smoothly, and for orchestrating a highly successful and creative event for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 2022 Annual Conference.

Other recipients, 18 total, also received awards and were recognition in their industry and beyond. Find the complete list below. For more information on the conference, go to speakers/conference agenda, see additional attached.

Maryland Tourism Coalition Marketing Awards:

  • Best Product or Event – Small (Anne Arundel County)
    Winner: United States Naval Academy Armel-Leftwich Center, “Honor Flight
  • Best Product or Event – Medium (Harford County)
    Winner: Visit Harford, “Harford County Arts Week”
  • Best Product or Event – Large (Cecil County)
    Winner: Great Wolf Lodge
  • Best Printed Promotional Material (Worcester County)
    Winner: Worcester County Tourism and Economic Development, “Maryland’s Coast Official Visitors Guide”
  • Best Media and Public Relations Campaign (Worcester County)
    Winner: Ocean City Department of Tourism and Business Development, “Catch A Ride”
  • Best Website (Allegany County)
    Winner: Allegany County, “the Mountain Side of Maryland”
  • Best Use of Social Media (Howard County) Winner: Catalyst Communications, “Fleet Week”
  • Best Digital Campaign (Queen Anne’s County)
    Winner: Queen Anne’s County of Economic and Tourism Development, “Crabs n’ Crushes”

Maryland Tourism Coalition Professional Awards

  • Tourism Advocate of the Year (Worcester County)
    Presented to: Melanie Pursel, Worcester County Tourism and Economic Development
  • Small Business of the Year (Howard County) Presented to: The Elkridge Furnace Inn
  • MTC Volunteer of the Year (Howard County) Presented to: Nicole Motsay, Turf Valley Resort
  • Cooperative Partnership (Dorchester County)
    Presented to: Chesapeake Country All American Road Byway Alliance
  • Visionary Impact (Howard County)
    Presented to: Amanda Hof, Visit Howard County
  • New Professional of the Year (Worcester County)
    Presented to: Brianna Dix, Worcester County Tourism and Economic Development
  • Audrey Davenport Hospitality Person of the Year (Anne Arundel County) Presented to: Michelle Doerr, United States Naval Academy Armel-Leftwich Center
  • Tourism Person of the Year (Baltimore City) Presented to: Nora Campbell, National Aquarium
  • Ambassador of the Year (Worcester County) Presented to: Michele Burke, Maryland’s Coast
  • Ambassador of the Year (Prince George’s County) Presented to: Jackie Saunders, National Harbor
  • Ambassador of the Year (St. Mary’s County)
    Presented to: Andrew Ponti, St. Mary’s County Museum DivisionFor more information on the Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, visit tourism-travel-summit/


For over 50 years, the Maryland Tourism Coalition has represented and united varied segments of tour and travel, bringing together the entire industry to enhance business growth and to promote the development of Maryland. Maryland Tourism Coalition strives to create the most productive statewide tourism climate possible. We promote business, offer professional development activities, and enhance our economic impact for the benefit of all Marylanders.

Maryland Tourism Coalition works on behalf of its members to affect positive change and defend the industry. Through direct advocacy, Tourism Day and educational sessions, our members inform and engage elected officials. Diversity is our strength; unity is our power.


Tourism Industry Partners Gather in Annapolis for Tourism Day

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 7) – Led and sponsored by the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), in partnership with Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, the Maryland Tourism industry will join together to advocate for their businesses, as over 150 industry professionals will be in Annapolis for the Annual Tourism Day. This one-day advocacy event will be taking place on Friday, February 10. The intention is to bring tourism leaders together with elected officials to illustrate the critical economic impact that tourism brings to the state.

The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. where industry leaders are invited to meet with their local legislators about important tourism talking points. This time can include individual or group meetings or complete door to door visits. At 11:15 a.m. the event kick off will be held at Rams Head On Stage for a working lunch. Remarks will take place by MTC executive director Ruth Toomey, various MTC chairs, as well as house and senate leadership. VIPs scheduled to attend are Brooke Lierman, Comptroller of Maryland and Kevin Anderson, Secretary of Commerce. This event is sold out.

Premier sponsors for Tourism Day include: Baltimore Tourism Association, Full Sail Media, Hearst Women’s Travel Group, Maryland Sports Commission, Miles Partnership, Ocean Downs Casino, Ocean City Tourism, Visit Harford and Washington Post. This event would not be able to take place without the support of these listed organizations and many other partners and supporters.

“Tourism is the driving force throughout the state of Maryland. Hospitality experts would all agree that your trip experience is rated based on how you were treated on the phone, at the front desk, enjoying your dinner meal, etc. The industry we work in really matters when it comes to the economics of the state whether that is how much money is brought in over a holiday weekend/special event or how many people stayed in your hotel at one time…We have a special job in tourism to create great experiences and have out of state visitors wanting to keep returning over and over again. That is what Tourism Day is really all about, sharing the great services offered throughout the industry and urging legislatures in the year ahead to support tourism efforts,” said Brianna Dix, advertising and destination marketing specialist for Worcester County Tourism and Economic Development.

Tourism is an ecosystem, delivering opportunity and quality of life for Marylanders that is derived from visitor spending. Every dollar spent to the market the state as a tourism destination returns $31 to the state. The travel sector is an integral part of Maryland’s economy. In 2021, Maryland attracted 35.2 million visitors who spent $16.4 billion. Vacation spending by visitors reduces each Maryland household’s state tax burden by approximately $1,000 annually, generates $2.1 billion in state and local taxes and supports $173,700 (direct and indirect jobs) making the tourism industry Maryland’s 12 largest private-sector employer.

To learn more about MTC yearly efforts and get involved with membership, visit


About Maryland Tourism Coalition: For over 50 years, the Maryland Tourism Coalition has represented and united varied segments of tour and travel, bringing together the entire industry to enhance business growth and to promote the development of Maryland. They promote business, offer professional development of Maryland. They promote business, offer professional development activities, and enhance our economic impact for the benefit of all Marylanders. Maryland Tourism Coalition works on behalf of its members to affect positive change and defend the industry. Through direct advocacy, Tourism Day and educational sessions, and annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, members inform and engage elected officials. Diversity is their strength, unity is their power. For more information on MTC and MTTS, please contact Executive Director, Ruth Toomey at 443-563-1315 or

Terry Hasseltine Wins Tourism Person of the Year

For Immediate Release | November 16, 2022 | Ocean City, MD  Over 250 tourism professionals gathered to bestow awards and celebrate an outstanding year throughout the state of Maryland and tourism industry. Maryland tourism shows resiliency and honors award recipients from counties across the state, including Howard, Anne Arundel, Annapolis, Washington, Talbot, Charles, St. Mary’s and Garrett Counties.

The 41st Annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit (MTTS) concluded on November 16, 2022, at the Ocean City Fontainebleau Resort in Ocean City, Maryland. Sponsored and managed by the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), the summit brings together hundreds of public sector leaders in the hospitality industry each year to network and learn new strategies to benefit tourism businesses and the whole state of Maryland.

While MTC celebrated 41 years gathering industry professionals, MTTS’s location this year was held in Ocean City for the first time since 2014. This year’s conference included topics about growing partnerships, interactive workshops and general sessions with guest speakers.

“We are so excited to see growth within our organization, and especially for the summit this year, as we welcomed 80 new conference attendees and 8 new sponsors,” said Ruth Toomey, Executive Director, MTC.

The event kicked off with a fun welcome reception co-hosted by the Town of Ocean City. Attendees gathered at Seacrets to enjoy a Taste of OC from local restaurants as well as craft beer and wine from local breweries and wineries. Attendees also enjoyed a special performance by Nashville recording artist Jimmy Charles.

“It’s so exciting to have MTTS held in Ocean City this year right in our back yard. Our office and the Town of Ocean City are extremely excited to show off our wonderful businesses and amenities within Worcester County. Not only do hundreds of professionals attend the summit, conference attendees also get to explore everything we have to offer during their stay” said Melanie Pursel, MTC legislative committee member and Worcester County Tourism and Economic Development Director.

Special guest speakers in attendance were Anirban Basu, Chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, Barbara Wold, International Speaking Professional, Retail and Consumer Authority and Rachel DruckenMiller, Unmuted Speaker. Each person spoke in one of the general sessions at MTTS. They brought insight and great tips to those working in the tourism and economic development industries.

As part of this informative, three-day event, annual tourism awards were presented to many deserving individuals within the industry. Award recipients at the annual banquet included Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County for their partnership with Black History 365. The best products were awarded to Visit Hagerstown-Washington County CVB for their Pottery Trail, Beach to Bay Heritage Area and the Town of Berlin for the Reverend Dr. Charles Albert Tindley Mural and Maryland Sports for their Maryland 5 Star event at Fair Hill.

The tradition of honoring one professional, the esteemed “Tourism Person of the Year”, has resulted in 41 professionals from previous years who came together to honor the newest “Pineapple Person,” who is someone who personifies the spirit of hospitality. Terry Hasseltine, Maryland Sports Commission and Maryland Stadium Authority employee, won the 2022 Tourism Person of the Year Award.

Terry Hasseltine, the long-time Executive Director of Maryland’s Sports Commission is an award-winning industry leader whose exceptional commitment has significantly enhanced and perpetuated the tourism industry through sports in Maryland. Terry Hasseltine has served as Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission since 2008 and the Vice President of the Maryland Stadium Authority’s Marketing and Communication since2014. He added to his responsibilities in 2019 the President’s role of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, a newly formed non-profit affiliated foundation to support the Maryland’s Sports Commission. Terry was the Chairman of the Sports Event and Tourism Association (Sports ETA, formerly NASC) from April 2013-April 2014 and served on the board for 10+ years. Terry also serves on the Maryland Tourism Coalition Board of Directors, US Sports Congress Advisory Committee and serves in an advisory role with the Maryland Horse Industry Board.

Terry has been instrumental in leading various bid-development and event- support opportunities for the state related to the USEF CCI4*, FIFA World Cup ™, AAU Junior Olympic Games, ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championships, World Football Challenge, Dew Tour, CONCACAF Gold Cup, IronMan, USATF Junior Olympics, Grand Prix, Army-Navy football games and more. Maryland Sports has engaged in well over two billion dollars worth of economic activity and secured over billion dollars worth of those activities in direct spending to date.

Congratulations to all the winners of the evening!


For more information on the Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, visit

For a complete list of award recipients by county see attached.


About Maryland Tourism Coalition: For over 50 years, the Maryland Tourism Coalition has represented and united varied segments of tour and travel, bringing together the entire industry to enhance business growth and to promote the development of Maryland. They promote business, offer professional development of Maryland. They promote business, offer professional development activities, and enhance our economic impact for the benefit of all Marylanders. Maryland Tourism Coalition works on behalf of its members to affect positive change and defend the industry. Through direct advocacy, Tourism Day and educational sessions, and annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, members inform and engage elected officials. Diversity is their strength, unity is their power. For more information on MTC and MTTS, please contact Executive Director, Ruth Toomey at 443-563-1315 or

Margot Amelia of the National Aquarium wins Maryland’s Tourism Person of the Year

The 39th annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit (MTTS) concluded on November 8, 2019 at Rocky Gap Casino and Resort in Cumberland, MD. Sponsored and managed by the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), the summit brings together hundreds of public sector leaders in the hospitality industry each year to network and learn new strategies in an effort to advance Maryland’s already thriving tourism industry.

As part of this informative, three-day event, annual Tourism Awards were presented to many deserving individuals within the industry. Margot Amelia, a long-time Tourism Professional who once served as Executive Director for the Maryland Office of Tourism Development (OTD), won this year’s Tourism Person of the Year Award. During her time as the Executive Director with OTD, Margot hit record-breaking years of visitation, visitor spending, and state sales tax revenue in Maryland during some of the state’s most challenging economic times. These outstanding numbers were attainable because of Margot’s foresight into consumer-driven marketing strategies which targeted key feeder markets through digital and traditional marketing channels.

For the past four years, Margot has operated as the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. Through her leadership, the National Aquarium has grown to become the number one paid cultural destination in Baltimore, attracting more than 1.3 million visitors each year.

Margot is an “inspiring leader with a strong and savvy focus on tourism and advertising,” said Emma Wesoloski, Director of Marketing Programs for the National Aquarium. With Margot’s ability to spearhead the development and execution of the Aquarium’s marketing plan, paying close attention to the financial and strategic objectives, Margot was able to tackle milestones that the organization had never seen before. According to the National Aquarium’s most recent Economic Impact Study, nearly 90 percent of Aquarium visitors report that the Aquarium is their primary reason for visiting Baltimore. The Aquarium is also responsible for more than $360 million in annual economic activity in Baltimore City, and nearly $455 million statewide.

Margot is a mover and shaker internationally “who dedicated herself to bringing visitors from around the world to Baltimore and Maryland,” said Sandy Turner, Tourism Director for Cecil County. Roughly five in six visitors to the National Aquarium come from outside the Baltimore region and about one-third of those visitors stay overnight in the area. Thus, resulting in approximately $100 million annually spent in transportation, shopping, and dining by visitors.

For more information on the Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, visit


About Maryland Tourism Coalition: For over 50 years, the Maryland Tourism Coalition has represented and united varied segments of tour and travel, bringing together the entire industry to enhance business growth and to promote the development of Maryland. They promote business, offer professional development of Maryland. They promote business, offer professional development activities, and enhance our economic impact for the benefit of all Marylanders. Maryland Tourism Coalition works on behalf of its members to affect positive change and defend the industry. Through direct advocacy, Tourism Day and educational sessions, and annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, members inform and engage elected officials. Diversity is their strength, unity is their power. For more information on MTC and MTTS, please contact Executive Director, Ruth Toomey at 443-563-1315 or

Maryland Tourism Coalition names Toomey as executive director

The Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC) announces that Ruth Toomey is its new executive director, effective June 1, 2018. Toomey, a longtime professional in the Greater Baltimore/Anne Arundel County hospitality industry, has been an active member and board member of the tourism/hospitality trade organization since 2009. She most recently served as MTC’s Membership chair.

“Tourism is one of Maryland’s top 10 economic engines and MTC needs a strong professional to guide our members in advocacy and policy to support an industry that employs nearly 150,000 Marylanders,” said Michael Haynie, MTC Board chair. “Ruth knows this community from the small business perspective, as well as the large retail perspective, and has been committed to MTC ‘s success for nearly 10 years. She is an asset to our mission and we look forward to growing our organization under her leadership.”

Ms. Toomey, who most recently served as director of Sales & Marketing for An Extraordinar Limousine in Glen Burnie, received her degree from High Point University in North Carolina. Prior to this position, she served as the Guest Services manager for one of the largest retail outlets in the region, Arundel Mills. She has more than 24 years of hospitality and customer service management experience, focused on marketing and communications.

“Serving as executive director is a tremendous opportunity to share my passion for promoting and supporting the wonderful small businesses that make up the backbone of the tourism industry in Maryland,” said Ms. Toomey. “I look forward to expanding MTC’s advocacy efforts across the state to help attract even more tourists to every corner of Maryland and grow this $17 billion economy.”

Ms. Toomey was raised and currently lives in Glen Burnie, Md. and is a graduate of Archbishop Spalding High School.

 Her email is


Maryland’s Tourism Person of the Year: Michael Haynie!

Michael Haynie of Parkway Management – Wins Maryland’s Tourism Person of the Year

378h Annual Tourism Awards highlighted recent three-day annual summit in Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE, MD – The annual Maryland Tourism Awards Ceremony highlighted the 38th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit, held last week at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina . The summit, sponsored and managed by the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), drew together hundreds of the state’s top tourism industry professionals for the latest discussions on tourism trends and strategy for increasing visitation and spending in Maryland.

Michael Haynie, a long time Tourism Professional, won the coveted Tourism Person of the Year award. Michael has devoted his entire professional career to the lodging and hospitality industry. Throughout his professional career, not only has shown but spoken his commitment to the tourism industry in Maryland. He is always on the front-line fighting for the tourism industry whether it be on a panel, media interview, in Annapolis before the legislature and has gone far as the highest position in the state to give the facts that they need to hear about “tourism.” He was in the front-line fighting with the Comptroller for Post-Labor Day. He saw and knew what the impact of that would be on tourism. He worked to get that passed and it came to fruition and it has made a great impact on tourism in the State of Maryland. I can personally say that this nomination is way overdue for someone who has the passion beyond and within his soul. Michael is a big reason and example of why “tourism” in Maryland is where it is today.

Michael served as Chair of the Maryland Tourism Coalition 2017-2018. In both of his years as chair he was instrumental in securing the Governor and Lt. Governor at three straight Tourism Day events in Annapolis. He served on the Comptrollers Task force for Tap Reform. Served on the Governor’s Task Force for a Post Labor Day School Start (and unbeknownst to many was the driving force behind the task force recommendation and subsequent executive order). Michael ha testified in the legislature more than 20 times over the course of 13 years for various Tourism related funding bills, initiatives, etc. Most recently, Michael helped secure an additional $1 Million dollars from the Governor for the Maryland Tourism Development Board. He has volunteered hundreds of hours in the Public School systems Hospitality and Culinary related schools serving many times as chair of the board. Michael was named the Tourism Mentor of the year in 2007 and was named the MHLA Hotelier of the Year in 2009. He serves on the Hospitality Boards for Morgan State University, Community College of Baltimore and has served on the board of Anne Arundel Community College Hospitality School.

Michael Haynie has been leading the break-down in some of the cultural and geographical barriers in state tourism and has been the force behind in bringing many people and businesses into the mainstream of tourism and understands the need to advocate for the promotion and marketing of tourism in our state.

MTC also presented Stuart Rice of Maryland Tourism Coalition with the MTC Judge’s Award. Mrs. Rice has been the Administrative Assistant of MTC since 2013. In that time she toted enough MTC “stuff” that if laid end to end, would circle the globe. She worked throughout an illness that would make most of us hide in our beds. But not her. She wore her head scarf proudly, went through all of her treatments like a champ, and never, not one single time missed a beat with MTC. She embodies all the best qualities of a true professional. Without her guidance and grace over the years, I‘m not sure where MTC would have landed without her.

The full list of award winners is as follows:


  • Best Product or Event (Small) – Annapolis Sailing Schooner Woodwinds – Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Annapolis Sailing Cruises: Schooner Woodwind.
  • Best Product or Event (Medium) – Carroll County Tourism – The Carroll County Barn Quilt Trail – It represents the county’s agrarian history by including the local farmers and their barns and enhances the visitor experience by providing art, history, and a scenic driving tour which weaves in and out of small towns showcasing the Main Streets and their small businesses.
  • Best Product or Event (Large) – Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce – Ocean City Key Card Book, was produce to be handed directly to the guests upon arrival to their hotel or vacation rental. Inside this booklet are 24 colorful advertisements for area businesses, along with coupons and a welcome message. The advertisers in this piece see a direct impact and increase in business by tracking the coupons or the “where did you find out about us” when they serve guests.
  • Best Printed Promotional Material Award – Visit Frederick “Explore the Outdoors” aims to give visitors a quick glance at the wide variety of outdoor recreation available in the county by showing eye catching images, small bits of engaging copy, and references to locations where more detailed information can be found. Each section of the brochure features a different type of outdoor recreation available in the county.
  • Best Destination Guide – Visit Frederick – An inspirational piece, the guide shows a variety of stunning images and eye-catching design. As a tool, the guide offers easy to understand maps, listings, and other resources as a quick reference for those who prefer to use a printed piece. The guide includes a “Bucket List”, a roundup of the county’s specific must do activities.
  • Best Media and Public Relations Campaign – The National Aquarium in St. Baltimore, Md. was honored for their campaign, “The Water is Calling”. Celebrating the primal connection between humans and the ocean, this campaign was truly innovative in how it leveraged and layered traditional and digital media, utilizing some of the leading-edge technologies available in the digital space such as video creative in Facebook carousel ads. The campaign generated awareness with 105,039,476 million impressions, directly contributed to 30,505 online transactions, drove 802,565 sessions on and increased the eCommerce conversion rate by 13.94 percent year-over-year. More tangibly, the campaign directly contributed to a 3 percent year over-year increase to general admission attendance during peak summer season. Additionally, they saw a 4 percent year-over-year boost in attendance in September.
  • Best Website – Allegany County Tourism – The previous website creative was 14 years old, unresponsive to mobile view, and ill-maintained. The new website visually represents the new brand and spirit of the county. It features a platform that allows for unlimited users and business listings, customizable search features, monetization, and a polygon geolocation search tool. Social media integration was incorporated using a third party, Crowd Riff. Tourism also integrated Ride With GPS, which features interactive road cycling routes. The Blog, which was previously hosted on a separate URL, was migrated to the new website to increase visitor’s length of time on website, provide digital consistency, and generate content.
  • Best Use of Social Media – Visit Howard County ‘s Farms Food & Fun is new digital marketing campaign around its farms, breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and all things ag. The new campaign included a relaunch of a new blog on the Visit website, social media ads, print and eblast campaigns with Recreation News and Edible DC
  • Best Digital Campaign – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was honored for their Waterfront Wedding at CBMM. This campaign included digital advertising of various sizes across a network of websites, all of which then directed visitors back to their website, where they had the option to download their official wedding guide for additional information and details. Viewers directed back to the site were also given appropriate contact information to interact with staff to further answer questions and promote the venue. The three-month campaign averaged 700 clicks per month over first two months, and substantially increased web traffic and direct email/phone inquiries. They booked weddings on 100% of its available dates for 2018.
  • Cooperative Partnership Award – Town of Ocean City, Worcester County Tourism, Wicomico County Tourism and Maryland Office of Tourism – This year’s award is a celebration of American music, arts and craftsmanship. Although the festival would take place in Salisbury, Maryland, participating partners recognized that the size and scope of the National Folk Festival would generate a positive impact for the eastern shore as a whole. Participating partners applied for and received a public private partnership grant through the Maryland Office of Tourism. By working together, they carried out an expanded campaign, reaching four different markets. The 2018 event, despite a weekend of bad weather, still drew over 60,000 according to festival host, the City of Salisbury
  • Visionary Impact Award – Visit Hagerstown/Washington County Tourism and Maryland Sports Commission for their work on the USA Cycling Amateur National Road Championship. To bridge the gap in group business that had once been a well-known convention destination, they had to absorb the loss of the convention business and grow group travel. They envisioned holding a national championship to drive group business for the future and it worked! Coordination of efforts with government agencies, private sectors and CVBs is a rare and often difficult undertaking. Because of the success of the 2018 event, they are confident in submitting and executing additional sports events with expertise they acquired as a major sports event planner. Led by a new vision of how to adjust to the new normal for their county, points to an unprecedented level of doing what it takes to convert tourism sales and growth.
  • New Professional of the Year – Erin Coulter of Buttonwood Beach RV Resort – Erin is eager to please, quick to smile, and anxious to learn while offering her own ideas and solutions. She handles thousands of clients through the summer month as each of them were the only thing she had to do, creating that connection which makes for a great guest experience. In the tourism and hospitality industry, the success or failure of our businesses and destinations depends on service. She has the magical ability, that’s hard to describe but easily felt, to provide exceptional customer service.
  • Best Small Business of the Year – State Ventures, LLC. developed a network of regional guides, anchored by, and includes Ocean,, College and This company leverages decades of experience and an extensive network of sites and contacts to help grow tourism businesses both online and offline. They have recently partnered with the Tri-County Council to receive grant funding from the USDA to assist in further marketing Shore Craft Beer Vacations.
  • Tourism Volunteer of the Year Award – Jackie Panowicz of Custom Media – Jackie is the first to volunteer to help whenever we need someone. She’s assisted in all our events throughout the year and has also held many different committee chair positions for MTTS. In addition to being committee chair, she also volunteers for other committees, usually serving on 2-3 more.
  • Audrey Davenport Hospitality Person of the Year – Claudette McDonald of Watermark Journey. Her countless positive reviews glow on Trip Advisor, Google and many other platforms. She is devoted to education by not only bringing the classroom to life but also stimulating the curiosity to learn. She works hand in hand with teachers in order to engage thousands of students for a lifetime of travel, exploration and love of learning. Each day she has made out tourism community a place to visit and a dream for our younger generation to hope to come back and visit.

How Will You Spend Your Longer Summer?

This Memorial Day, the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC) encourages families to visit the many historic battlefields and war memorials throughout our state and to take a moment to reflect on these outstanding Americans.

Memorial Day is a time to honor the memories of all service members who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our great country. Memorial Day Weekend is also the “unofficial” start of summer. Thanks to an early end of the school year because of our mild winter for most school systems and starting school after Labor Day, Summer 2017 should be a record setting season for our many small and family-owned tourism businesses.

As previously reported in a 2013 study prepared by the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates, starting the school year after Labor Day could result in as much as $75 million in additional direct economic activity.

These revenues are critically needed dollars for our state budget to re-invest in our priority areas and make Maryland the best state in the nation to live, work, raise a family, and of course, play.

To help kick off the summer season, MTC would like to share with you some of reasons tourism works for Maryland,

#10: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, Cambridge
The newest Maryland state park, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center provides visitors with a rare opportunity to reflect on the importance of Harriet Tubman’s legacy and retrace her quest for freedom.  This one-of-a-kind attraction promises to bring people from around the world to rural Dorchester County. Explore beautiful natural landscapes and low-lying marshes where Tubman not only escaped from slavery, but also escorted other slaves to freedom along the network of secret routes and safe houses.  Tubman returned to Maryland — risking her own freedom — multiple times, ultimately leading approximately 70 people out of bondage, according to historians. The Visitor Center and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway are a must see attraction this summer.

#9: Maryland’s Other 52 State Parks
The Harriet Tubman center and its surrounding property became Maryland’s 53rd state park when it opened this spring.  Maryland is blessed to have so many state protected lands available for public enjoyment – from hiking nearly 3,000 feet up in Dan’s Mountain State Park in Western Maryland to paddling the river trail at sea level in Janes Island State Park on the lower Eastern Shore, our state parks definitely showcase “America in Miniature!” MTC celebrates our state parks not only for their $650 million in economic impact, but for offering world-class recreation and relaxation for visitors and locals alike for more than 100 years. Best of all, nearly every Marylander is just minutes away from a Maryland State Park.

#8: Eat and Drink Maryland Style
The largest slice of Maryland’s tourism pie is a category we call Culinary Tourism. This is really just a fancy way of saying eating and drinking while traveling.  And boy do we have this one covered. With the blue crab population bursting along with the number of brewery barrels produced on the rise in Maryland, our visitors will be picking and toasting all over Maryland. Eating and drinking Maryland-style is not only the top activity enjoyed by visitors who come to Maryland, us locals are also pretty fond of our food. So wherever you are in Maryland, you are never far from your favorite crab house or one of Maryland’s outstanding wineries, breweries or distilleries. So go ahead and sprinkle on more Old Bay –because you won’t stay thirsty for long my friends.

#7: Maryland’s Historic Battlefields and War Memorials
Maryland is home to many pivotal battles of the American Revolution, Civil War and more. Take a moment to reflect on the service to our great country by the service members who fought for our freedom. Also, you can visit many war memorials in Maryland, including the World War II Memorial overlooking the United States Naval Academy and historic Downtown Annapolis at the base of the U.S, Naval Academy Scenic Severn River Bridge (MD 450).

#6: Maryland’s Main Streets
From Easton to Ellicott City to St. Mary’s City, our main street and their unique merchants have so much to offer aside from quaint and historic architecture. Maryland’s Main Streets and downtown districts are sought-after areas by visitors who are looking for the unique qualities of an area and an authentic experience. Visitors spend more than $17 billion in small businesses every year sustaining the mom and pop shops that we Marylanders sometimes take for granted. When most everything can be bought online these days, MTC is grateful to the many Maryland small businesses that are attracting thousands of visitors to Main Streets across our state!

#5: Maryland’s Heritage Areas
MTC extends a big shout out to the 13 Maryland Heritage Areas and the hundreds of individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and governments that continue to form partnerships and regional collaborations to preserve the best of Maryland’s historic sites, towns and enduring traditions. Visitors who travel to Maryland for heritage tourism are likely to stay twice as long and spend more money.

#4 IPW – Maryland Welcomes the World
In early June, the United States Travel Association’s IPW, an international travel event, will take place in the Capital Region, which creates an opportunity to sell Maryland to a global marketplace right here in our own backyard. Travel buyers from 1,000 countries and six different continents will be exploring the Capitol Region including Maryland and could book as much as $4.7 billion in travel for the United States. With the current state of travel in a precarious situation, the timing couldn’t be better for the United States to welcome the world and boost this $2 trillion dollar industry in America. The Maryland Office of Tourism will be fully engaged in this event and has been working for more than two years on its plans to promote Maryland at IPW.

#3: A Longer Summer for Maryland
Thanks to years of perseverance by industry professionals and business owners, and with the support of State Senator Jim Mathias of Ocean City, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Governor Larry Hogan, Marylanders will now have an extra two weeks or more to enjoy the many splendors of summer. Regardless of any increase in tourism revenues, you cannot put a price on the value of having more time to spend with family. So go ahead and make those travel plans for August because there’ll be plenty of time now for back to school shopping.

#2: A Maryland Economic Engine
Tourism is the tenth largest private sector employer in Maryland with payroll topping $5.7 billion each year. Tourism revenue topped $17 billion in 2015 an increase of 3.5 percent from the year before generating nearly $2.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. More than 40.5 million people visited Maryland in 2015 an increase of six percent from 2014. The power of tourism is so much more than statistics and tax revenues! But don’t take our word for it, explore Maryland for yourself and create and share your own Top Tourism Spots in the Old Line State.

#1: The Many Faces of Tourism
Our #1 reason to celebrate all things tourism is the many faces of tourism in our state the 143,000-person workforce that pushes our industry forward every day. You know what we’re talking about: the front desk clerk that welcomed you after along plane ride or the shop owner who shared a personal story about his family-owned business. There’s also the restaurant manager who worked double shifts that day, and the tour guide who brought a historic neighborhood to life. This summer, be a visitor in your own backyard. Maryland’s many attractions are looking forward to seeing YOUR face.

Wrapping up an exciting 2017 Legislative Session

Several dozen tourism industry professionals heard from some of the state’s leading business advocates at the Maryland Tourism Coalition’s Legislative Wrap Up in Annapolis on April 26. Our panelists reflected on the inner workings of key pieces of legislation that will impact businesses and tourism – with most of the discussion focused on the passage of Maryland’s paid sick leave bill.

Thank you to Amy Roher, Maryland Hotel Lodging Association – MHLA, Kevin Atticks, Grow & Fortify; Cailey Locklear Tolle, Maryland Retailers Association and Larry Richardson Maryland Chamber of Commerce. And of course, our moderator and MTC Legislative Chair, Chris Riehl from Baltimore Rent-a-tour

We also must thank our presenting sponsor for making this all happen! Comcast Spotlight! MTC Member Deb Travers and her crew presented the benefits of Comcast Spotlight before we launched into our panel discussion.

Perhaps what everyone was most excited for was the reception following the engaging discussion on the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel’s spectacular rooftop deck overlooking the beautiful Annapolis harbor and city dock area. There may have been a few people enjoying their signature “Pain Killer” cocktail as well! Thank you to the hotel’s team for a job well done!

And finally, after a few days of rain and clouds, the skies cleared toward the end of our event – just in time for a wonderful cruise aboard the Schooner Woodwind, docked just outside the hotel.

Our work is just beginning to strategize how to best prepare for the 2018 General Assembly. Workgroups will be meeting over the interim to flush out issues associated with legislation passed and to prepare for the return of bills that didn’t pass this year. We encourage MTC members to join the Legislative Committee and become involved. We need all of the help we can get to increase funding for tourism marketing, protect small businesses and strengthen our presence in the halls of Annapolis.

Enjoy these photos of the event courtesy of KRR Photography Limited

$12,794 grant funds melding of the hip and historic for Civil War geocaching trail

 DATE:   April 4, 2017                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Carol D’Agostino, (410) 604-2319;

$12,794 grant funds melding of the hip and historic for Civil War geocaching trail

FREDERICK, MD – Marketing your strengths is important whether you are a business or a region. For many rural communities and regions throughout Maryland the real assets lie in the beauty of their landscape and the richness of their history. The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, one of the state’s 13 heritage areas, decided to leverage those assets to create a unique visitor experience to stimulate an interest in history while also channeling tourism dollars into the regional economy.

The heritage tourism and economic development project called the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Geocache Trail is funded by a $12,794 Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF) grant, which is administered by the Rural Maryland Council (RMC). The grant funded the development of 16 “treasure sites” or geocaches along a Civil War rich trail stretching through three counties: Carroll, Frederick and Washington. Participants use GPS-enabled devices to find items hidden in particular locations. Think of it as outdoor treasure hunting where the hip and historic meet.

“We have been thinking a lot about how to make history relevant to more people,” says Auni Gelles,

assistant director, Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, and grant project coordinator. “In general, people tend to think about history around big landmark years like the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and bicentennials. Geocaching and using technology are strategies that we can use to make history relevant to visitors and locals alike all the time,” she adds.
The geocaching trail was created with dual purposes: to boost attendance at existing historical sites and to create an economic development impact in the region where they are located. The trail officially opened on October 1, 2016. “We reviewed our first set of economic data when we were at about 180,” says Gelles. “Approximately 89 percent of the people reported purchasing a meal or snack while here; 71 percent bought gasoline and 8 percent spent a night in a hotel. We expect the numbers to continue to support that this project is having an economic impact in the region,” she adds.

Creating impact to a region and collaborating with partners were two aspects that made this project particularly attractive to the funder. “This project impacts five Main Street communities in three counties,” says Charlotte Davis, executive director of the Rural Maryland Council. “It’s continued economic development effects through visitor spending in Westminster, Taneytown, Mt. Airy, Frederick and Middletown is an important side benefit of a clever history education project. It has been great to see organizations like the Maryland Geocaching Society as well as the multiple historic sites and county tourism offices come together to develop this project,” she adds.

For the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area the real magic of the project has been its success in igniting new interest in history not only for visitors, but also for locals as well. “Participants are encouraged to leave comments when they turn in their Geocaching Passports to receive their geocoin rewards when they complete the trail. We not only have heard from visitors, some who have traveled from other states, but also from locals who have spent years driving past historic sites and for the first time stopped to do the geocache trail,” says Gelles.
One of 13 designated heritage areas in Maryland, the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area serves three counties and 24 municipalities. It’s mission is to promote the stewardship of its historic, cultural, and natural Civil War resources; encourage superior visitor experiences; and stimulate tourism, economic prosperity, and educational development, thereby improving the quality of life in our community for the benefit of both residents and visitors. For more information on the Geocaching Trail, contact (301) 600-4031, visit or email

Founded in 1994, the Rural Maryland Council serves as the state’s federally designated rural development council and functions as a voice for rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communities and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity to its suburban and urban counterparts.  To learn more call (410) 841-5774, email or connect with the Rural Maryland Council at or on Twitter @RuralMaryland.


Geocache user “Pathfinder Mark” and his daughter after finding a geocache at Emerald Hill Park in Carroll County.

More than 100 “cachers” attended the official launch of the Heart of the Civil War GeoTrail at the Frederick Visitor Center on October 1, 2016.

Support of Maryland Beer at Senate Hearing


CONTACT: Susan O’Brien, 443-254-6000,



Craft Beverage Tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of Maryland Tourism

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Tourism Coalition Executive Director Winifred Roche will testify today in support of HB 1283 with amendments that allow the Maryland craft brew industry to continue its growth and contribution to Maryland’s economy and tourism.  Joining her to testify will be Barry Hansen, chief operating officer for City Brew Tours. City Brew Tours, based in Boston, operates City Brew Tours Baltimore.

“Maryland’s breweries, as well as our wineries and distilleries, are one of the fastest growing segments of our state’s tourism industry. Their products’ exceptional quality and successful marketing campaigns are attracting thousands of visitors to Maryland,” said Ms. Roche. “Look no further than City Brew Tours, which opened its doors in Baltimore to accommodate the growing interest in craft beverage tourism. This company is just one of many companies that demonstrate the impact of tourism on Maryland’s economy. If this bill passes without amendments, it will set back years of growth by these small businesses, most of which are family owned and operated. To pass legislation that deliberately limits their ability to produce and sell their product is terrible for business and for tourism.”

Mr. Hansen added, “We hope to grow our small business in Baltimore in tandem with these breweries and we hope to expand in other areas of the state. Passing this bill without amendments would prevent our business from continuing to operate in Baltimore at all and would have far-reaching consequences preventing growth of small business. City Brew Tours selected Baltimore as its fifth operating city due to the growth in craft breweries and the amount of people looking to visit them. Further restrictions will unravel the industry, which has only just begun to blossom in Maryland. When we launched in Boston in 2012, Massachusetts has 49 breweries. Regulations that have been passed in recent years paved the way for brewery expansion. Last year, Massachusetts had 84 breweries contributing an economic impact of $282 per capita compared to Maryland’s 60 craft breweries with only $150 per capita economic impact.”

Maryland tourism is the state’s 10th largest private sector employer with more than 144,000 employees. Over 40 million visitors to Maryland spent roughly $17 billion in the state in 2015, according to a recent study.