Seeking to show county is a great place to visit

30-page tourism guide being unveiled this week

October 01, 2002|By Emily Benson | Emily Benson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Carroll tourism boosters are set to distribute thousands of copies of the county's first official visitors guide.

Visit Carroll County, a glossy, 30-page magazine, will be available at Maryland welcome centers, visitor centers and hotels after the publication's official unveiling this week. Although 18,000 copies of the guide have been quietly distributed, the rest of the 140,000-copy run is about to be released.

The Tourism Council of Carroll County is throwing a reception tomorrow night at Carroll County Farm Museum to mark the start of the campaign.

"We want to make a big splash," said Stephen H. Kerkam, council president.

This year, the council, a group of businesspeople promoting tourism, said it would work with the county Office of Tourism to produce the first-of-its-kind guide.

Although brochures existed to promote tourist destinations in the county, no guide included all of its offerings. Tourism council members determined that a comprehensive guide would allow Carroll to better compete with other counties for visitors' dollars.

The publication is planned to complement the council's other promotional efforts, which include print advertising, a weekly radio show on WTTR and trade shows.

"It's just a piece of the puzzle - a major piece," said Barb Beverungen, manager of the county's tourism office.

The $65,000 cost to print the guide was paid for through advertisements sold to shops, inns and other local businesses.

The guide includes descriptions and color pictures of scenic views and historic sites such as the farm museum and Union Mills Homestead. It also includes information on shopping, outdoor recreation, restaurants and festivals in Carroll County.

In 2000, Carroll's share of Maryland's $8.2 billion tourism industry was $54 million, according to the Travel Industry Association of America, based in Washington. A survey of 20 events in Carroll County showed that they attracted 250,000 people, Beverungen said.

The farm museum - which according to its director draws about 100,000 visitors a year - is prominently featured in the guide. Dottie Freeman, the museum's executive director, said she hopes the visitors guide helps the attraction maintain or increase its popularity.

"I would be happy to maintain 100,000, but I would be even happier to bring in 10,000 more," she said.

Sandy Scott, owner of the Hickory Stick craft store in Westminster, liked the idea that local businesses could get together to advertise instead of trying to promote themselves individually.

"I felt the concept was good," Scott said.

Kerkam, who owns Wood's Gain Bed and Breakfast in Linwood, said it is difficult to predict the impact the guide might have on Carroll businesses.

"If we could have a 20 to 25 percent increase, we would be ecstatic," he said.

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