Although Carroll County boasts historical attractions, recreation, fine restaurants and inns - drawing thousands of visitors each year - the county has never had an official tourism guide.
But that oversight will soon be corrected when the Tourism Council of Carroll County - a group of businesspeople promoting tourism - publishes its Visit Carroll County guidebook in July.
"We'll produce a 32-page magazine-type guide, unlike anything we've done, with all kinds of stories and tourism events and places to visit in the county," said Stephen H. Kerkam, tourism council president. "It's a whole different approach from the tourism office."
The council plans to print 125,000 copies and distribute the guide to hotels, inns, the tourism office and tourism-related sites in Carroll and around the state.
The book might include itinerary suggestions for one- to three-day stays and might focus on Carroll as a four-season destination, Kerkam said.
"Parks, recreational activities, lodging, restaurants, tourism sites, shopping, outdoor fun will be featured - anything that will bring the people here, that's the goal," Kerkam said. "We want to make sure we entice visitors to come to the county."
The guidebook, being developed with Carroll County Tourism Office and the county Office of Economic Development, will be a tourism and marketing tool, he said.
Maps, planning aids
Plans call for the book to contain 16 pages of advertising and 16 pages of editorial content - with information and ads organized around towns and communities, plus maps and planning aids.
Advertising is expected to pay the cost of the guidebook.
"Research has indicated from a tourism perspective, people only want to travel one to two hours, and we're two hours more or less away from major metropolitan areas, and that will make it attractive to people who want to come and spend a day or weekend with us," Kerkam said.
Barbara Beverungen, manager of the county tourism office, said a survey showed that 20 major Carroll events attracted 250,000 people to the county last year.
Although brochures about county sites are available, Dottie Freeman, administrator of Carroll County Farm Museum, said a complete guide such as Visit Carroll County is needed to bring all of the offerings together in one place.
"The farm museum is the hub of tourism in Carroll County," Freeman said. "We've always worked cooperatively with the tourism office, and anything that would help visualize the farm museum in its whole context - education center, historic site, home of the Maryland Wine Festival, we host weddings and other events - would be good for us."
The Maryland Office of Tourism Development publishes a statewide guide for visitors, but Hannah Byron, office director, said that many counties and some larger cities have guides.
"If people want to know more, it's nice to have something more detailed to offer them to entice them to visit," she said.