Mobile Maryland tourism unit is roving information center

November 29, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

When the state sent its mobile tourism brochure unit to the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market in Westminster, it took Rich Gilbert only five minutes to have it open for inspection by the Carroll County Tourism Association.

Mr. Gilbert, who operates the unit for the Maryland Office of Tourism, hands out free information and drums up business for events as he takes to the road for festivals that attract crowds of thousands across the state.

"You have a ready audience who wonder what they can see on their way home and what they can do when they come back," he said. "We have that information for them."

He urged Carroll towns and businesses to provide details on events and promised the unit would spread the information. "This is a roving information center which is always ready to go and full of brochures," he said.

The truck, a fixture at most state events, was last seen in Carroll at the Wine Festival in September. "The unit was next to [our booth] at the festival, and I can tell you people were constantly surrounding it," said Joan D. Meekins, director of the county tourism bureau.

On his many stops, Mr. Gilbert offers brochures to visitors. He doesn't limit the information-on-wheels promotions to Maryland.

"This unit was our main presentation at a recent travel conference," said Nancy Wilson, manager of the state information centers. "It is a one-of-a-kind item known through out the country. Many states are trying to imitate it."

The information centers, along several state highways, are not only a stopover for maps and directions, she said. They also can be a source of advertising.

"We have been watching Carroll County grow and want you to know we are a source for promoting anything that relates to tourism in this area," she said. "Our counselors are great salesmen. They know how to market this state and how to encourage visitors to stay here."

Ms. Wilson said she would work with the county tourism office to develop more promotional programs.

"Use the centers to help your industry," she said. "They see the travelers first and are ambassadors for Maryland."

In 1994, the centers will pay tribute to two counties each month with displays.

Ms. Meekins said that she would welcome suggestions from association members before putting the Carroll County display together.

The county office is at work on the 1994 Calendar of Events, which will be available at centers and through the mobile unit.

"Tourism is our industry," she said. "Carroll County has a charm we want to promote."

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