Travel, shop, state urges

Glendening unveils tourism, retail perks to help lift economy

Travel, spend, residents urged

October 11, 2001|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

With unemployment claims up in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Gov. Parris N. Glendening redoubled efforts to bolster tourism and retail industries yesterday and urged Marylanders to shop, travel and go about "the normal activities of life."

Quoting Franklin Delano Roosevelt's declaration that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," the governor announced a series of measures intended to encourage people to visit tourist attractions, shop and go out to dine this weekend.

Among them: free rides this weekend on mass transit, including Baltimore buses, subway and light rail, and Washington's Metro system.

The state will also allow fishing without a license on Saturday and Sunday.

At a State House press conference, the governor presented the measures as steps to keep the economy strong and people's spirits up.

"More than ever, we need to remain steadfast as a state, as a nation," Glendening urged.

As he has since even before the attacks, the governor insisted that Maryland's economy is strong.

At the same time, he acknowledged that the attacks in New York and on the Pentagon have had a significant impact.

Glendening said there had been a spike in unemployment filings since Sept. 11, particularly in the airline and tourism-related industries.

Figures released by the state showed a 21.7 percent jump in unemployment claims between the first week of September and the last.

Revenue reductions

Glendening said officials expect to see revenue reductions as a result of the attacks and are taking steps to "restrain expenditures." He said that in addition to revenue drops, the state faces unanticipated spending on various security measures.

For the second weekend in a row, the governor announced a series of tourism promotions. He designated Saturday and Sunday as "Maryland Family Fun Weekend," with discounts at major tourist attractions and promotions at local malls.

This weekend's promotions will include half-price admission at the Six Flags theme park in Prince George's County and two-for-the-price-of-one rides on the Hi-Flyer balloon at Port Discovery in Baltimore.

There will also be entertainment at Arundel Mills and free flag lapel pins at the Rouse Co.'s malls in Maryland.

Security to be bolstered

Glendening and his aides also discussed a series of measures the state has taken to bolster security against terrorist threats:

The governor said the Maryland Emergency Management Agency has received a $1 million grant from the Department of Justice for equipment to respond to chemical and biological incidents.

State health secretary Georges Benjamin said he has met with the chief health officers of every Maryland jurisdiction to review the state's existing bio-terrorism defense plans.

Benjamin said public health agencies, which previously operated Monday through Friday, will now be staffed around the clock, seven days a week.

The governor said he has spoken with Sen. Walter M. Baker, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, about possible changes to Maryland law to increase police intelligence-gathering authority.

He said any such measures must also protect civil liberties and privacy rights.

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