Tourism is heating up for the summer in Baltimore. As the
city enters a summer packed with headline-making events like the Grand Prix and
Baltimore Pride, the hospitality sector is looking forward to a busy and
"Tourism is lifting itself, and doing very well," says Tom
Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore.
At the Inner Harbor, increased tourism spending is providing
opportunities for growth. The Rusty Scupper, a staple of the Inner Harbor
tourist trade, expects revenues to increase 25% this year. The National
Aquarium and The Maryland Science Center are also experiencing increases in
visitor traffic and revenue. Baltimore's popular free bus service, The Charm
City Circulator is experiencing increased ridership, and expects to reach 2
million riders this year.
Visit Baltimore has taken the expected increase in tourism
seriously. Through its Certified Tourism Ambassador program, Visit Baltimore
aims to have hundreds of specially trained personnel around the city to provide
welcoming help to visitors. The program will train hospitality industry
workers, police officers, cab drivers and workers in other tourism related
industries to help tourists navigate the city and answer questions about
history, venues and landmarks.
"We're training a knowledgeable force, so that as a guest
you'll run into someone who is certified, has taken a class and passed an
exam," adds Noonan.
Hotel occupancy is increasing, fueled by both a rebounding
travel market and a healthy convention business downtown. Baltimore's hoteliers
are adding approximately 2,500 new rooms to handle the increased demand. The
city's hospitality profile will increase with the addition of the new Four
Seasons Hotel in 2012.
Author: Amy McNeal
Source: Tom Noonan, Visit Baltimore