Choptank Lighthouse at Twilight
Jill Jasuta

Tourism News

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Choptank Lighthouse at Twilight
Jill Jasuta

A twice-monthly newsletter full of information for the cultural and tourism community.

1
The New Guide to Birding in Maryland is Here
Baltimore Oriole perched in a tree

Located centrally on the great Atlantic Flyway and with a diverse collection of native and migratory birds, Maryland is a birder's paradise. Find out more with the new free Guide to Birding in Maryland. Produced by Executive Media Global with input and assistance from the Maryland Office of Tourism, the guide is designed to engage with experienced birders, bring new birders to the hobby, and bring them all to Maryland. The guide is hosted at VisitMaryland.org, and can be downloaded for free by following this link.

2
VisitMaryland.org Brings Home Outstanding Website Award
VisitMaryland.org website viewed by Screen, Tablet and phone

The Maryland Office of Tourism relaunched its comprehensively overhauled VisitMaryland.org website in 2020, and the new site is earning industry praise. Built in partnership with Miles Media, the website has won the Web Marketing Association's 2021 award for Outstanding Achievement. The Web Marketing Association uses independent judges reviewing seven criteria to reward sites that surpass the industry’s standards in web development. Congratulations to all who worked so hard to earn this achievement.

3
Make Your Nominations Now for the 2021 Destination Maryland Awards
Maryland Open Logo

OTD is seeking nominations for the 2021 Destination Maryland Awards. These awards recognize the outstanding work of the tourism industry in its quest to increase revenue from visitor spending while providing unforgettable customer experiences for our visitors. Individuals, businesses, organizations, and governmental agencies that have significantly and positively impacted the local, regional, or statewide economy between November 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021 are eligible for nominations. Submissions are due by 5:00 p.m. October 22, 2021.

This year’s categories include the Maximizing Opportunities Award, the Market Expansion Award, the Leveraging Partnerships Award, and the Transactionable Outcomes Award. The awards will be presented during the Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit, November 8-10 in Hanover. For more information, including eligibility guidelines, and to make a nomination, follow this link.

4
Project Restore Accepting Applications From New and Expanding Maryland Businesses
Project Restore logo

Governor Larry Hogan announced that Project Restore, the State’s $25 million economic recovery initiative to revitalize vacant retail and commercial spaces across the state, is now accepting applications. “Thanks to the hard work and the resilience of the people of Maryland and our small business community, our state has had one of the strongest economic recoveries in the nation, and Project Restore will help us build on that progress,” said Governor Hogan. “With applications now open, I encourage all eligible local businesses and developers to apply for these financial incentives right away.”

Applicants can apply on the Project Restore website through Friday, October 8 at 5 p.m. The application portal may close sooner if grant requests exceed the funding available, so applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Project Restore is providing two grant opportunities for businesses planning on opening or expanding into previously vacant spaces, the Rental Assistance Grant with a maximum request amount of $30,000 in rent assistance for one year for qualified small business with 50 or fewer employees, and the Business Operations Grant with a maximum award amount of $250,000 for one or two years for businesses that generate sales and use taxes. For more information, follow this link to the Project Restore website.

5
Successful Chesapeake Bay Storytellers Program Receives New Grant Funding
Pictured: Chesapeake Bay Storyteller Alum Shardana Sailing Charters offers customized tours from Rock Hall, MD.

Chesapeake Bay Storyteller tours became immensely popular this summer season. Many of the tours led by the Maryland Office of Tourism (OTD) and National Park Service (NPS)-trained tour guides were completely booked throughout the season. Chesapeake Bay Storytellers lead water-based tours about Chesapeake Bay nature, history, culture, and stewardship, and can vary from paddling tours, to sailing tours, fishing charters, watermen’s heritage tours, history and lighthouse tours and more. In 2020, OTD and NPS trained these guides through three separate training courses: one each at Calvert Marine Museum, Living Classrooms at Masonville Cove, and Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Thirty-eight participants representing 33 businesses or organizations graduated from the training program. The tours were then marketed and promoted by OTD via a printed guide Stories of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, a promotional video, web content, digital and print ads, social media ads, and media outreach.

OTD is pleased to announce that it recently received a grant from the NPS to continue delivering the Chesapeake Bay Storytellers training. Plans include expanding the program to train more water-based tour guides and to include land-based tour guides who deliver tours or programs about the Bay. The grant will also fund market research about Chesapeake Bay visitation and travel. Stay tuned for more information about training dates.

Pictured: Chesapeake Bay Storyteller Alum Shardana Sailing Charters offers customized tours from Rock Hall, MD.

6
New Tourism Products Launched for International Underground Railroad Month
Harriet Tubman Reaching Out display at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitors Center and State Park

Tourism partners around Maryland maximized the opportunity of International Underground Railroad Month 2021 to create and launch new tourism products. Charles, Calvert, and St. Maryland’s county DMOs, in partnership with Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium, developed a new African American Heritage Guide with NPS Network to Freedom sites highlighted; Heritage Montgomery created a new brochure Crossroads & Culture: African American Heritage; and Watermark launched “Becoming Frederick Douglass” walking tour.

Check out the VisitMaryland.org Calendar of Events to see the programs and events also taking place this month. The OTD team is here to help market your new products and events, as well as others already developed, as part of Maryland Most Powerful Underground Railroad Storytelling Destination in the World. Visit our “Open For Heroes” page for inspiration and to begin your planning for next year.

7
Baltimore Homecoming Event Returns in 2022
Baltimore Homecoming 2021 Logo

Baltimore Homecoming is hosting its Amplify 2022 event May 4-6 of next year. Baltimore Homecoming is a nonprofit seeking to engage Baltimore natives and alumni to spark new partnerships, investments, and collaborations in the city. Baltimore Homecoming is also seeking nominations for community and nonprofit leaders, activists, artists, and innovators who have made a significant impact on Baltimore for the Baltimore Homecoming Hero Awards presented by T. Rowe Price. In addition to a $3,000 cash prize, winners will have the opportunity to raise the profile of their work and organization by speaking at Baltimore Homecoming and will have access to capacity-building resources provided by T. Rowe Price. Follow this link to The Baltimore Sun’s website to make your nominations through October 15.

Baltimore Homecoming has also issued a Field Trip request for proposals. The field trip component seeks to showcase Baltimore’s community-focused nonprofit organizations as site locations and give more organizations an opportunity to engage with attendees. Nonprofits interested should follow this link to apply by October 15 for consideration. For more information about Homecoming Heroes including a comprehensive toolkit for participants, follow this link.

8
It’s Maryland Restaurant Week
Maryland Restaurant Week Logo

The second annual Maryland Restaurant Week is underway now through September 26. Maryland Restaurant Week brings Maryland’s cities, counties, and restaurants together to celebrate the restaurant industry. Participating restaurants may offer special menus, discounts, or seasonal fare for dine-in, curbside, or carryout. Maryland Restaurant Week is brought to you by the Restaurant Association of Maryland and sponsored by McCormick For Chefs and Old Bay seasoning. For more information including participating restaurants, follow this link to the Maryland Restaurant Week website.

9
OTD Unveils its FY22 Marketing Plan
FY 2022 Tourism Marketing and Development Plan Cover

The Office of Tourism Development’s marketing plan is updated annually, and details the travel industry’s situational analysis, including visitor statistics, industry insights, lodging trends, and product and visitor analyses. It also lays out the fiscal year objectives and strategies by the individual programs within the department. OTD measures its programs against four strategic objectives: Market Expansion, Leveraging Partnerships, Maximizing Opportunities, and Transactionable Outcomes. Each department within OTD has outlined their strategies within these four strategic objectives in the plan. For a link to the FY22 marketing plan, click here.

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