Maryland's efforts to blow its own horn have been so muted they have cost the state thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue, a coalition of tourism-related industries and supporters said yesterday.
The Maryland Tourism Commission, in a report aimed squarely at winning General Assembly approval for increased spending, said the state had failed to tap its full potential as a tourist draw.
If Maryland had kept up with Virginia's spending on promoting tourism, "it could have generated an additional $15 million in revenue and 6,000 more jobs," the report says.
According to the report, tourism pumps more than $4 billion into Maryland's economy each year and generates about 76,000 jobs. State and local government are also big winners in the tourism game, said the report, which estimated that taxes resulting from travel spending total $300 million annually.
The report did not recommend how much Maryland should increase its marketing budget, but George E. Williams, the state tourism director, said Gov. William Donald Schaefer's fiscal 1993 budget probably will seek a "slight increase of a couple of hundred thousand dollars."
That would not be enough to restore Maryland's tourism marketing budget to its fiscal 1989 level of $6.9 million, Mr. Williams said, but would be an improvement over the $5 million allocated in fiscal 1992.
Del. Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said there was "overwhelming support for a modest increase in the tourism budget" among fiscal leaders in the House and the Senate.
He said that when the group compared Maryland's tourism spending with that of surrounding states, Maryland ranked fourth out of five.
"A lot of people think of this as a fringe activity," Mr. Rawlings said, but the fiscal leaders regard tourism as "a vital industry."
The Maryland Tourism Council includes trade associations representing operators of hotels, restaurants, taxis and campgrounds.