Hopes for link with Wales fading Economic benefits fail to materialize BALTIMORE COUNTY

September 14, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County's effort to craft an economically beneficial sister relationship with South Glamorgan County in Wales hasn't produced.

Early talk of regular charter air connections between Cardiff, the Welsh county's main city, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport has faded. The proposed Baltimore appearance by the Choir of the World, a Welsh-based firm that recruits up to 10,000 choir members for a performance, is off.

A Cardiff-based business group is planning to visit Baltimore next May, but only to inspect Baltimore's Inner Harbor, a success Welsh officials hope to duplicate on their own waterfront.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden is the only one of the `D Baltimore County officials who put together the sister-county agreement who remains in office, and he canceled his plans to visit Wales in May.

What has become of the grand plans for economic development?

"I have asked the same question myself," said Peter Cope, South Glamorgan County's new economic development director. "It all seems to have gone a little bit quiet."

His counterpart in Baltimore County, Neil Jacobs, gave a similar assessment this week.

"Baltimore County was very ambitious and aggressive in looking for economic development" with Wales, he said. "It appears that is not coming to fruition."

Though one local travel agency is arranging a spring tour of Britain and Wales, the tour operator and Mr. Jacobs agree that the county has had little involvement.

Diane Molner, manager of the agency, Rohrbaugh Tours, said county tourism specialist Kelly Groff helped develop the $2,200-a-person tour package but that the Hayden administration generally "dropped the ball" in establishing regular tourist traffic.

Rohrbaugh belongs to the private Tourism Association of Baltimore County, which helped pay Mr. Hayden's travel expenses for the 1992 trip he took to Wales in hopes of boosting the tourist business.

Mr. Jacobs said the business didn't materialize because "Baltimore County per se was not attractive as an end destination" for Welsh tourists.

In January 1992, when Mr. Hayden, County Attorney H. Emslie "Lee" Parks, Director of Economic Development Kenneth Nohe, Communications Director Carol Hirschburg and Executive Secretary Judith Scheper traveled to Wales to sign the sister-county agreement, Mr. Hayden made his purpose clear.

"Let me be crass about it. The agreement had to be something that would put dollars on the table. It had to have a payoff for Baltimore County," he said then, criticizing the cultural nature of the county's older sister-county relationship with Grossetto, Italy.

Lord Jack Brooks, as leader of the South Glamorgan County Council, and Roger Beaumont, as economic development director, represented their homeland then but have been replaced.

Mr. Hayden, who is away on a two-week vacation, recently expressed hope that the plan for South Glamorgan County will pay off.

"They've been gripped by recession, too," he said. "I'm hopeful of getting the tourist exchange. You don't just jump into these things."

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