CVB Hosts Annual Meeting and Breakfast at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

PHOTO CAP: CVB President and CEO Tom Riford at the December 2, 2010 CVB Annual Meeting




CVB Hosts Annual Meeting and Breakfast at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

(Hagerstown, MD): The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) hosted its annual meeting and breakfast at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts on December 2, 2010. There were approximately 75 people in attendance, including CVB members, members of the community, and also the media.
The CVB annual meeting was led by Carrie Cirrito, manager of Jellystone Park and Resort, and chairperson of the CVB's board of directors. Accountant Les Curry and CVB Board Treasurer Tim Henry presented the organization's financial picture. Washington County Commissioner James Kercheval addressed the attendees, and expressed county support for the efforts of the CVB, and thanked the CVB for its many partnering and supportive efforts.
The guest speaker for the 2010 annual meeting was Elizabeth Shatto, the Executive Director of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. Ms. Shatto presented an annual report of the heritage area, planning for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and grant opportunities for municipalities and non-profits. The heritage area is a three county state-certified heritage area, and one of its latest successes is the opening of the Newcomer House Exhibit and Visitor Center at Antietam. The Newcomer House project was done as a cooperative effort with the CVB, National Park Service, and the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.
President and CEO Tom Riford reviewed the CVB's accomplishments over the past year, including the dozens of events and organizations for which the CVB has provided financial assistance. Also, the annual wrap-up contained information about sales efforts, including all of the trade shows, which the CVB has attended.
Riford also presented financial planning for 2011, and an outlook on initiatives that the CVB is undertaking for the future. Riford presented a Power Point presentation with more than 35 slides, which includes charts, graphs, financial information, a listing of the next year's trade shows which the CVB will attend, media planning, and more.
After two years of economic declines in the tourism industry locally, Riford said that recent data shows that tourism is rebounding. "The CVB continues to be moving forward in a positive direction," Riford said. "The amount of marketing has increased, while debt is almost eliminated, all while we had fairly flat revenues this year." This year, the CVB has spent 50-percent of its revenue on marketing. Riford said that occupancy is up in 2010 at local hotels, and revenues are rebounding.
Visitor spending in 2009 was down compared to 2008 ($278-million compared to $300-million, according to the latest State of Maryland figures). However, 2010 is shaping up to be a very positive year for tourism.

Riford reported that visitation is up at area parks and attractions this year. "Antietam National Battlefield reports an increase in attendance of 10-percent over 2009, and that year was up 28-percent over 2008. Also, this year's attendance at Antietam will be about 900,000 total paid and unpaid visitors," Riford said. Riford also said that visitation to South Mountain Recreation Area's parks were up. "South Mountain State Recreation Area exceeded 637,000 visitors this year, up 11-percent over 2009. Greenbrier State Park sold out 21 times," said Riford. "Fort Frederick and the Western Maryland Rail Trail also have reported increases. This year is a 15-percent increase in visits and camping, more than 267,000 visitors this year, this year compared to 232,000 last year." Riford also said that local museums and parks all report healthy 2010 visits.
After Riford addressed the attendees, several drawings were held to give out prizes provided by CVB members - everything from concert tickets, to shopping gift certificates, to a day of kayaking, and biking.
The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau helps attract visitors while assisting the tourism industry. Several key marketing programs are done by the CVB, including Destination Marketing, Group Tour Marketing, assisting the Association of Museums and Historical Sites, Visitor Welcome Center Services and more. The tourism industry brings more than $277 million dollars into Washington County each year from visitors from 50 miles or more away. Locally, the leisure and hospitality industry accounts for over 6,000 jobs. Many retail sector jobs are directly attributed to the tourism industry
The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization that helps to create vibrant growth for the local economy by promoting, developing, and expanding the local visitor industry. For more information about Hagerstown-Washington County, see: www.marylandmemories.com.
Washington County has five national parks, eight state parks, over 30 museums, a renowned professional symphony orchestra, a professional minor league baseball team, and the county is ranked first in the State of Maryland in the Retail Opportunity Index. Washington County is part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (www.heartofthecivilwar.org), and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area (http://hallowedground.org). Washington County is also part of the Quad-State Tourism Coalition, a four-state tourism group along I-81. For more information, see: www.quadstate81.com. The Hagerstown-Washington County CVB was recently awarded the Maryland Cultural Heritage Tourism Award by Governor Martin O'Malley.
To view the Annual CVB Holiday Card, click here: www.marylandmemories.org/holiday-card-2010/
"Tourism brings with it certain economic, cultural and environmental benefits. Our local economy depends on visitor spending to provide businesses with revenues, which in turn provide tax contributions. Visitors also help impact economic development, and they are potential investors as they may choose to relocate their business or family, and new investors stimulate economic growth. Cultural benefits include the development and maintenance of amenities, events, and theatre and arts programs that a community might not otherwise afford. The environmental benefit is that tourism is a "green" industry, and the industry sector promotes preserving and conserving, especially natural resources and historical heritage."