Maryland saw increase in visitors in 2009

State was one of five nationwide with more visitors

May 11, 2010|By Edward Gunts, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland was one of five states nationwide that saw their number of visitors rise in 2009, according to figures released Tuesday by the Maryland Office of Tourism.

The report by D.K. Shifflet & Associates of McLean, Va., showed that Baltimore had 29 million visitors last year, 1 million more than in 2008, an increase of 3.5 percent. Nationwide, Shifflet reported, the number of visitors dropped 5.5 percent.

Leisure trips to Maryland — those not related to business meetings or conventions — were up 5.2 percent, while the United States as a whole saw a 3.3 percent decrease. Business trips to Maryland were down 1.5 percent last year. Nationwide, such trips were down 12 percent.

Both day and overnight trips to Maryland were up last year compared with national declines. The study defined a visitor as someone who travels 50 miles or more to a destination.

The District of Columbia also saw its number of visitors increase in 2009.

The report's findings were released as part of a National Travel and Tourism Week event at the World Trade Center in Baltimore. State tourism officials used the occasion to showcase an $800,000 promotional campaign for the first half of 2009 known as the "Land Of …" campaign. It touts Maryland as a land of fun, adventure and romance.

Margot Amelia, executive director of the state tourism office, attributed the rise in tourism last year to a variety of factors, including Maryland's easy driving distance from other states and an increase in promotional spending by jurisdictions such as Ocean City.

"It was pretty dramatic," Amelia said of the increase in visitors.

Amelia said she was particularly encouraged that the number of visitors who stayed overnight in Maryland rose 2.1 percent, to 14 million in 2009. The overnight numbers include visitors who stayed in a hotel or with family or friends. Amelia said overnight visitors are prized because they tend to "stay longer and spend more."

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