From Harford County Government:
(Bel Air, MD) – – Harford County Executive David R. Craig, joined by Donald C. Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee and Jim Richardson, Director of the Office of Economic Development for Harford County and Eric McLauchlin, Chair of the Economic Development Advisory Board have announced the release of “2012 Harford County – Destination Market Study.” The study was conducted by C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois for the Greater Baltimore Committee in conjunction with the Office of Economic Development.
The report provided an analysis of the current tourism situation with respect to economic and demographic indicators, tourism products, and current tourism promotional efforts. Key observations and issues were identified during interviews with various local organizations, as well as state officials. Additionally, key characteristics of mid-size sports facilities and convention centers were cited along with recommendations for ensuring the ongoing tourism growth for Harford County in both 3 year and 8 – 10 year intervals.
The report revealed the existing museums and attractions, as well as dining, do not provide a core base of activity that encourage multiple day stays for tourist visiting Harford.
“Harford County’s tourism profile is changing and there is a market share that can be captured even during austere times,” remarked County Executive David R. Craig. “Harford County is at a pivotal point in the tourism industry and working with our partners in the business community and neighbors at APG, we must develop a vision that will help create additional opportunities for tourism at a higher economic impact level,” Craig remarked.
With the growth of Aberdeen Proving Ground, the role and opportunities for tourism in Harford County is changing. Until now, Harford County has experienced the benefits of the tourism industry with a relatively small investment. The primary benefit of implementing the recommend changes will be a substantial increase in the economic impact of the tourism industry on Harford County.
The following are the recommendations from the C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc., regarding the “2012 Harford County – Destination Market Study”:
–The current impact from tourism stems from sporting events, leisure market, and meetings hosted in the county, however the APG conversion has changed the profile and opportunities for the county.
–The existing museums and attractions along with dining do not provide a core base of activity options that would encourage multiple days’ stay. It is important to note that most of these recommendations are not stand alone action steps, but would need to work in concert for a successful destination strategy.
–Targeting meeting, conference and sporting event business will move the industry forward generating higher economic impact.
–Establish a full service conference and visitors bureau (CVB) to give the county one strong voice to actively market tourism products, gain market share- and attract investment.
–Based on Johnson’s assessment Harford County can support a mid-market sized convention center and recommends the county pursue strategies to attract private investment. Three case studies regarding this recommendation can be found in the report.
–First phase of the facility would be a 12,000 square foot ballroom, 8,000 square foot meeting space and 30,000 square foot exhibit hall which could host approximately 288 events within five years.
–Implement a lodging tax that is dedicated to tourism marketing and development.
“It is fairly easy to mount a local tourism effort, however, to move to the next level, a resource base must evolve that allows marketing as well as bricks and mortar projects to advance the county,” the County Executive stated.
Commenting on the study, Donald Fry, of the Greater Baltimore Committee stated, “Harford County has tremendous assets and has the potential to grow the economic impact brought about by the tourism industry. This report provides some key suggestions of how Harford County can maximize its tourism potential and become a significant player in the regional tourism market.”
To see the complete study, visit the Greater Baltimore Committee website at www.gbc.org.