For Immediate Release | November XX, 2021 | Hanover, MD 250 tourism professionals gathers to bestow awards and celebrate withstanding the pandemic. Maryland tourism shows resiliency and honors award recipients from counties across the state, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, Cecil, and Saint Mary’s Counties, plus western Maryland’s Frederick, Alleghany, Garret, and Washington Counties.

The 40th Annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit (MTTS) concluded on November 10, 2021, at Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover, 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 recover Maryland’s once-thriving tourism industry.

While MTC celebrated 40 years gathering industry professionals, MTTS brought new meaning this year as the hospitality industry has endured the grip of the pandemic in ways never before imagined. It was the first large-scale gathering since 2019 of tourism leaders coming together in solidarity. Every county in the state was represented.

“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 14 new sponsors,” said Ruth Toomey, executive director, MTC.

The event kicked off with an eco-friendly welcome reception co-hosted by Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County at Laurel Park, featuring live artists and a sampling of the best foods from Anne Arundel County.

“It feels so good to be back at an in-person event with members of the tourism and hospitality community from all over our state! We’ve all been through a lot, but the fact that we’re here just proves how resilient and committed we are. We have a lot to look forward to!” said Chris Riehl, MTC board chair and president of Rent-A-Tour.

Special guest Comptroller, Peter Franchot, joined the summit to provide an inspiring message about a bright future for the tourism industry. Tom Riford, Maryland Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary of Tourism, Film, Arts, Marketing and Communications distributed awards on behalf of the Maryland Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism Development (OTD). Recipients included The Avalon Foundation Stoltz Pavilion for their brand new, outdoor live music venue; Howard County Tourism for the 2021 Major League Quidditch Championship; and a Leveraging Partnership awarded to Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Montgomery Counties for the C&O Canal Experience, through successfully identifying and packaging complementary assets in the C&O Canal region in order to drive revenue with overnight stays. Guests were welcomed to the Summit by Anne Arundel County Executive, Steuart Pittman.

As part of this informative, three-day event, annual tourism awards were presented to many deserving individuals within the industry. The tradition of honoring one professional, the esteemed “Tourism Person of the Year”, has resulted in 39 professionals from previous years who came together to honor the newest “Pineapple Person,” who is someone who personifies the spirit of hospitality. Ruth Toomey, MTC executive director, won the 2021 Tourism Person of the Year Award. Ruth rallied the industry together before the pandemic, and when March of 2020 started to wreak havoc on local tourism businesses, Ruth stayed the course and fought to bring tourism professionals together, growing the organization by adding new partners, new events and new opportunities for MTC members.

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

For a complete list of award recipients by county and speakers/conference agenda, see additional 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