Marci Ross – Longtime Employee of the Maryland Office of Tourism Wins Maryland’s Tourism Person of the Year
37th Annual Tourism Awards highlighted recent three-day annual summit in College Park
COLLEGE PARK, MD – The annual Maryland Tourism Awards Ceremony highlighted the 37th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit, held last week at the newly opened The Hotel at The University of Maryland. 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.
Marci Ross, a 20-year employee of the Maryland Office of Tourism and resident of Baltimore City, won the coveted Tourism Person of the Year award. Marci began her long career in tourism as a hostess at the former Baltimore Chart House restaurant in 1985. She eventually worked her way up to sales and marketing manager for the popular restaurant. She held the same position at the company’s Annapolis and Old Town Alexandra locations. In January 1997, the Maryland Office of Tourism brought her on board a resources development manager. In 2005, she was promoted to assistant director of Tourism Development, the job she still holds. In addition to her many duties, she manages the state’s Welcome Centers Program, call center, and outreach efforts. She has received many other industry awards throughout her career.
“Maryland is fortunate to have many award-winning quality tourism professionals. Each year, the selection of this award gets tougher, but Marci Ross has worked diligently for two decades to propel Maryland forward in all aspects of the tourism industry,” said MTC Chair Michael Haynie. “As one of the hardest-working, behind-the-scenes workers, Marci’s achievements will long outlive her tenure to the public. From her work on huge endeavors like the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Cambridge to pushing for tourist attraction signage along Maryland’s highways in every corner of our state, she has a can-do spirit and is always seeks positive resolutions to tourism challenges.”
MTC also presented Dr. Leonard Berger of Ocean City with the MTC Legacy Award. Dr. Berger, owner and operator of the Clarion Resort Fountainebleu Hotel, was honored for his 35-year, post retirement as a physician, career in hospitality. Dr. Berger was instrumental in the creation of the Maryland Tourism Development Board and served as its first chair in 1998. His pioneering commitment to pet-friendly travel and his additional philanthropy in the beach community was noted.
The full list of award winners is as follows:
MARYLAND TOURISM COALITION AWARDS
- Best Product or Event (Small) – Garrett County Chamber of Commerce – Celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Mountain Maryland Getaway to the West Heritage Area effort.
- Best Product or Event (Medium) – Worcester County Office of Tourism – The Beach & Beyond Campaign – The award honored a 30-second video featuring a family enjoying the many activities families can do down the ocean. The video was widely viewed on social media and traditional media.
- Best Product or Event (Large) – Visit Hagerstown & City of Hagerstown – The Hagerstown Cultural Trail, which was designed over a former railroad system, and is dotted with public art installations, gathering places, and other amenities along the way. The trail, which connects the downtown Arts & Entertainment District with the Museum of Fine Arts in City Park, is quickly becoming a top tourist spot.
- Best Printed Promotional Material Award – Cecil County Tourism created a brochure compelling nature lovers to explore the County’s natural assets. The brochure includes trail, wildlife descriptions, paddling options, and nearby attractions through the use of gorgeous photography.
- Best Destination Guide – Queen Anne’s County Tourism and Alchemi Design & Production, LLC – The first tourism-related print piece encompassing the entire destination in more than a decade promotes specific events and attractions and was a team effort of the County’s Tourism Office, Economic Development and Kent Narrows Development Foundation.
- Best Media and Public Relations Campaign – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. was honored for its strategic use of digital storytelling that successfully widened the public and media audiences for the restoration of the historic boat, the Edna Lockwood. The multi-faceted communications plan concentrated on video and social media to expand and diversify audience demographics, helping to not only preserve a National Historic Landmark, but attract more guests and members to the museum.
- Best Website – Visit Frederick – As the first stop of anyone’s visit to Frederick, Visit Frederick’s website is critically important to its marketing efforts. Visit Frederick’s site is not only easy to navigate for potential visitors, but also for business members to easily update their information about events, special offerings and more. Interactive custom maps are available to users and for the first time ever, more users landed on the website from mobile devices than desktops. The new website has seen a 21 percent increase in traffic in the past year.
- Best Use of Social Media – Carl Smith of the Prince George’s Conference & Visitors Bureau – Mr. Smith was honored for his creativity and visual appeal on the County’s tourism website, as well as the successful use of email marketing and sharing of information via social media channels. His extraordinary work is building the County’s brand and increasing visitation.
- Best Digital Campaign – Garrett County Chamber of Commerce – Visitors to the Chamber’s website can enjoy “living video scenes” of the vast outdoor activities available in Garrett County. Each site includes links to attractions, deals, a visitor’s guide and a calendar of events. County ambassadors can also take these assets on the road via virtual reality headsets with the videos to lure potential visitors.
- Cooperative Partnership Award – Shore Craft Beer, Ann Hillyer, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and Worcester County Tourism – This year’s award honors an innovative partnership between small businesses, local tourism offices and hotel associations that resulted in significant increases in sales for all. From the Shore Craft Beer Fest, declaring October as Shore Craft Beer Month (which led to the designation by the State of FeBREWary), Love on Tap in February, and finally Brews on the Beach in September, this effort featured sold out events and brought many new visitors to Ocean City to discover locally made craft beverages – a true expansion of culinary tourism.
- Visionary Impact Award – Presented to Melanie Purcel, Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association & Wor-Wic Community College for Ocean City’s Hospitality Boot Camp and Hospitality Supervisor Survival Kit. Tourism’s greatest asset is the thousands of employees working in tourism related industries and this effort builds the skills necessary to providing outstanding customer service. The training will continue each year with new seasonal employees. The partnership also leveraged critically needed state funds available to help elevate job skills.
- New Professional of the Year – Visit Frederick’s Melissa Muntz – In less than two years, Melissa has taken her County’s tourism office to new heights both online and in person. She led the County’s efforts to relaunch its website (see award above) and organized trainings both internally and with external business partners. She also organized a media tour of the County’s four new distilleries that resulted in nearly a dozen articles written promoting the burgeoning industry. She also created a guest blogger program to give a platform to local businesses that partner with Visit Frederick. She also launched a foodie newsletter to showcase local food and beverage outlets that had nearly 3,000 subscribers.
- Best Small Business of the Year – Turf Valley Resort – The tourism industry is driven by small businesses. After the July 2016 flood that devastated Main Street in Historic Ellicott City, Peter Mangione and his team at Turf Valley generously offered value space to retailers who were displaced during the flood. They created a marketplace that was busy during the critical holiday season and allowed business owners to make a living.
- Tourism Volunteer of the Year Award – Sarah Kurtanich of Howard County Tourism & Promotion – Sarah is well-known in the tourism community for her expertise in communications, marketing and social media. She volunteers her time to help MTC as a member of its communications committee and coordinates social media campaigns for several MTC events throughout the year.
- Audrey Davenport Hospitality Person of the Year – Marian Hrab of The Hotel at The University of Maryland in College Park, host of MTTS 2017. Marian is a trusted colleague to many of the state’s tourism professionals and can always be counted on to collaborate, mentor and offer assistance. For more than 20 years, she has transformed or launched signature hotels around Maryland. She sees the hotel as just one part of tourism’s total picture and helps make the location a contributing member of the community where it is located. She was also honored for her continued contribution to the Maryland Tourism Coalition and for hosting her third tourism summit.
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.
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
DATE: April 4, 2017 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Carol D’Agostino, (410) 604-2319; email@example.com
$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 www.heartofthecivilwar.org/geo-trail or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com or connect with the Rural Maryland Council at facebook.com/RuralMaryland 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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 29, 2017
CONTACT: Susan O’Brien, 443-254-6000, firstname.lastname@example.org
MARYLAND TOURISM COALITION & CITY BREW TOURS BALTIMORE
TESTIFY IN SUPPORT OF MARYLAND BEER AT SENATE HEARING TODAY IN ANNAPOLIS
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Susan O’Brien
March 3, 2017 443-254-6000
MARYLAND TOURISM COALITION PRESENTS TOURISM ADVOCATE AWARD TO GOVERNOR & COMPTROLLER FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF “LET SUMMER BE SUMMER” CAMPAIGN
Governor & Comptroller also declared March as Maryland Wine Month
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), led by Board Chair Michael Haynie and Executive Director Wini Roche, today presented Governor Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot its coveted Tourism Advocate award during the annual Tourism Day in Annapolis. The Maryland Park Commission also presented Senator Ed Kasemeyer with the State Park Legislative Champion award in honor of his support of Maryland State Forests and Parks.
“With one signature on an Executive Order to start the school year after Labor Day, Governor Hogan has enabled Maryland families to enjoy their summers again. His action, along with Comptroller Franchot’s longtime support, will help thousands of mostly locally owned, family-operated businesses regain lost income,” said Ms. Roche.
The Governor’s executive order, signed on August 31, 2016, declared that all Maryland public schools begin the 2017-2018 school year after Labor Day and end by June 15.
“Tourism is a driving force in Maryland’s economy that creates jobs, supports our small businesses, and generates billions of dollars in revenue to our state each year,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “It has and will always be a top priority of our administration,” said Governor Hogan.
For several years, Comptroller Franchot had championed the effort after meeting with business leaders from Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake and other vacation destinations around Maryland.
“Marylanders overwhelmingly support starting school after Labor Day,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Families get more time to spend together, small businesses see more sales, and by ending by June 15th, students experience a more compact academic schedule that maximizes learning without constant disruptions.”
The awards were the highlight of the day, which brings together more than 300 tourism industry partners to meet one-on-one with their legislators and discuss the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Tourism Development and Marketing budget, as well as other bills pending that impact tourism.
After the awards ceremony, Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot officially proclaimed March as Maryland Wine Month to showcase Maryland wine growers, a significant contributor to Maryland’s tourism economy.
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.
A full economic impact of tourism in Maryland study, recently completed by nationally renowned Oxford Economics is available here.
Produced by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, Destination Maryland is an inspirational travel guide that combines stunning photography and stories written by Maryland writers.
This year’s guide includes works from authors who have also written for publications including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Washingtonian, and offers travel ideas including adventures of all kinds, road trip suggestions and tips from Maryland experts including celebrity chefs Brian and Michael Voltaggio. Destination Maryland is available at state Welcome Centers, restaurants, and other tourist locations and can be ordered free online at visitmaryland.org.
It’s a great time to be a foodie with six great restaurant weeks on the menu in January. Enjoy seasonal specials and prix fixe menu options at
Baltimore Restaurant Week, January 13-22;
Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week, January 13-22;
National Harbor Restaurant Week, January 14-20;
Harford County Restaurant Week, January 20-29; and
Baltimore County Restaurant Week, January 20-February 4.
The Maryland Hotel Lodging Association has put out a call for nominations for their 28th annual “Stars of the Industry” awards. Nominations fall under three categories: Employee Awards, Lodging Property Achievement Awards, and Allied Member Awards, and must be received by January 13. Award winners will be announced at the Stars of the Industry Awards Luncheon to be held on Tuesday, February 7 at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve in Hanover. For more information follow this link.
MTC NAMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The Maryland Tourism Coalition has named Wini Roche as the organization’s new executive director.
The leading advocacy organization for Maryland’s tourism industry, MTC is a non-profit membership association that represents the state’s tourism industry and supports the efforts of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development.
Roche will administer day-to-day operations for the organization, which includes managing all communications activities, growing membership, and lobbying local, county and state officials on behalf of the tourism industry.
“Wini brings a passion for tourism and a love for all things Maryland,” says MTC Chairman Kevin Atticks, founder of Grow & Fortify. “We are confident that she is the right person to help us move our organization forward.”
Originally from Cambridge, Maryland, Roche has more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning destination marketing professional and grassroots tourism advocate. She served as tourism director in Dorchester County from 1994-2001 and was instrumental in the continuing revitalization of this Chesapeake town. She was a founder of Sailwinds Park and worked with local and state lawmakers to bring the waterfront development project to fruition, including the multi-million dollar visitor center, the public park, and event space.
She also helped galvanize the Dorchester County community around the concept of heritage tourism and began the planning process that has led to the county’s designation as a Certified Heritage Area and resulted in the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom scenic by-way and Harriet Tubman State Park.
Roche later moved to the northern part of the Bay where she created a tourism program for the City of Havre de Grace and established the town as a destination for weddings and leisure travel. In 2006, she became the tourism and marketing manager for Harford County Government and brought the county notoriety with the “Harford County Love it!” campaign and her popular video blog series, “Where’s Wini?”
She worked to increase local tourism funding and helped secure a local lodging tax that would be dedicated to tourism marketing activities. She led the charge to create Visit Harford!, a conference and visitors bureau that would become a public-private partnership and would ultimately be funded with revenue from the hotel tax.
In August 2015, Roche launched her own tourism and marketing consulting firm, Roche & Associates. Her company was contracted to manage the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit, MTC’s signature event, held at Turf Valley Resort last October.
She also served a term on the gubernatorial-appointed Maryland Tourism Development Board and was a board member of the Maryland Tourism Coalition for more than 13 years where she volunteered to promote awareness of the tourism industry through the Tourism Works for Maryland Campaign. She was the organizer of Tourism Day in Annapolis since 2010 where hundreds of industry leaders convene in Annapolis during the General Assembly Session to meet with elected leaders and heighten the awareness of the tourism industry.
Roche and her husband Mark reside in Havre de Grace, with children Michael, Alex and Andrew. She also is a board member of the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy that is working to restore the Skipjack Martha Lewis. She enjoys musical theater and is a board member of the Tidewater Players.
“Tourism makes a difference in the lives of Marylanders” says Wini Roche. “I look forward to all the ways we can make that difference even greater.”