Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 8:00am
(Baltimore, MD) September 25, 2018 – Visit Baltimore President and CEO Al Hutchinson announced today that Baltimore’s 26.2 million visitors generated a total of $5.7 billion in economic impact in calendar year 2017 during the organization’s annual business meeting at the Hilton Baltimore hotel.
According to data from Longwoods International, the 26.2 million visitors in calendar year 2017 marked a one percent increase in day trips over the prior year. Thanks to increased day trip visitor spending in the categories of food and beverage and recreational activities, overall visitor spending rose 2.5 percent to $5.7 billion in direct sales. In total, Baltimore area tourism spending generated $717 million in local city and state taxes, saving each Baltimore area household $685 in personal income tax contributions.
“The results of our yearly visitor research confirm once again that tourism is a major economic engine for the City of Baltimore,” said Hutchinson. “The meetings and tourism industry is a major employer for the region, creating or sustaining more than 85,678 jobs, activity generating $1.5 billion in taxes and fees for the state and city. Furthermore, convention sales and tourism marketing enhance the perception of Baltimore as a great place to start a career, build a business, attend college or even purchase a home.”
The meeting, attended by city leaders and more than 300 members of the hospitality community, also provided the opportunity for Hutchinson to review a number of the organization’s FY18 initiatives. Highlights included:
• The convention sales team booked a total of 373 events for future years, worth $260 million in future economic impact, including 28 citywide conventions.
• Numerous national media accolades were secured by the communications team. Baltimore was named “The Coolest City on the East Coast” by Travel + Leisure and included on The New York Times list of “52 Places to Go in 2018.” Additionally, Departures Magazine included Baltimore on its list of “The Most Inspiring Art Cities in America” while Coastal Living and Condé Nast Traveler recognized Baltimore for its food scene.
• Marketing efforts drove an integrated partnership with Southwest Airlines that invited more than five million travelers to “See the Baltimore You’re Missing” through a 24-page feature in the airline’s inflight magazine, Southwest: The Magazine.
• The new Destination Video, a marketing tool produced in collaboration with 100 local partners and featuring almost 30 neighborhoods, continued to amplify the Baltimore story. The video served as the basis for Visit Baltimore’s broadcast, digital and out-of-home advertising message for FY18.
In calendar year 2019 Baltimore is set to welcome 48 Baltimore Convention Center events including 29 citywide conventions representing a total of $208 million in economic impact. Fifteen of the citywide conventions are considered high-impact bookings, driving more than 2,000 room nights on peak.
Thanks to state-enabling legislation secured in 2018, Visit Baltimore hopes to continue its progress with the Baltimore Tourism Improvement District (TID) throughout the remainder of FY19. A coalition of Visit Baltimore and the city’s hotel community is now poised to introduce local formation legislation in the City Council to secure enhanced and supplemental funds through such a model. These funds would allow Visit Baltimore, with buy-in and oversight from the hotel community, to deliver transformational marketing support to tell Baltimore’s story to national audiences, capitalize on growth markets to drive overnight travel and secure high-impact meetings and industry events that the organization otherwise could not afford to entertain.
Visit Baltimore has also embarked on an initiative to improve Baltimore’s visibility and engagement in Google’s search and travel exploration products. Visit Baltimore and Miles Partnership have launched a two-part educational initiative for the local industry focused on helping Baltimore organizations expand exposure within Google’s products and improve engagement and conversion with customers.
During the conclusion of the meeting several awards were presented recognizing special achievements in Baltimore’s tourism industry and outstanding contributions to the city’s economic growth as a destination for visitors.
• The William Donald Schaefer Baltimore Tourism Visionary Award was presented to Dr. Joanne M. Martin, Founder and President & CEO of The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum. The museum is America’s first wax museum of African American history and culture featuring more than 150 life-size and lifelike wax figures and is among the nation’s most dynamic cultural and educational institutions.
• Customer of the Year was presented to Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). In 2018, its annual ICNA-MAS Convention, the largest Muslim convention in the US, brought 22,000 attendees from 41 US states and over a dozen countries to Baltimore. The Islamic Circle of North America’s past and future annual commitments to the city of Baltimore equate to over $67 million in economic impact since 2014.
• Baltimore Salesperson of the Year was awarded to Ana Aponte-Curtis, Immediate Past Chair of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners (NCBMP) and former Vice President of Meetings and Events for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Aponte-Curtis has served in a variety of roles as an advocate and champion for the city of Baltimore and the promotion of the destination. She has served as a member of the Visit Baltimore Customer Advisory Board, participated in Visit Baltimore’s strategic visioning process and assisted the Baltimore Convention Center with various projects.
• The Charlyene E. Grimes Customer Service Award was given to Jonathan Knox, Concierge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court. Jonathan has received over 75 positive Trip Advisor reviews and publishes the ‘Concierge Weekly,’ which includes his recommendations for restaurants, local attractions and events. As a devoted employee and community member, he is a valued asset to Baltimore.
Full details of Visit Baltimore’s fiscal year 2018 results and fiscal year 2019 initiatives can be found in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Annual Report and Business Plan, available online at www.baltimore.org/annualreport.
Visit Baltimore is the official sales and marketing organization for Baltimore that generates economic benefits for stakeholders through the attraction of convention, group and leisure visitors. For more information, please visit www.baltimore.org.