The Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has launched two new web sites to assist area residents and visitors to Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay. Launched last fall, the new NaptownLocals.com blog site helps individuals experience Annapolis like a local by giving them the inside skinny on all things Annapolis. And, launched in July, TheHotelsAtBWI.com highlights the best of what northern Anne Arundel County has to offer.
The two new sites flesh out the CVB’s repertoire of web sites that includes MeetInAnnapolis.com and WeddingsInAnnapolis.com, as well as a VisitAnnapolis.org site that’s available in mobile and desktop formats.
CVB President and CEO Connie Del Signore said the TheHotelsAtBWI.com site highlights the unique personality of the Annapolis-Baltimore region.
“The BWI area is booming,” she said. “Home to an ever-growing number of hotels, attractions, restaurants and shopping opportunities, it’s the logical choice for business travelers and vacationers seeking convenient access to Baltimore, D.C. and surrounding counties. The independent site enables us to market the appealing qualities of the region and put interested individuals in direct contact with the information they need.”
TheHotelsAtBWI.com site is perfect for individuals who are planning to take in Baltimore and/or D.C. attractions, but prefer the convenience of overnighting in the BWI area.
Marketing the BWI Region
For the past two years, the CVB’s marketing efforts have focused largely on driving traffic to its VisitAnnapolis.org site that highlights the entire destination. Under this scenario, the BWI region had to share the limelight with Annapolis and the Annapolis countryside.
The launch of the new site changed that. Since its fiscal year 2016 kicked off on July 1, the CVB has been marketing the TheHotelsAtBWI site to targeted audiences, including the corporate market.
The BWI region has 43 hotels and 7,000 rooms to choose from. One reason the area is so popular for business meetings and conferences is the fact that there’s so much to do nearby when the workday is through. Full-service hotels, along with Maryland Live! Casino, Arundel Mills Mall, dozens of restaurants, the National Electronics Museum, the National Cryptologic Museum and the Benson-Hammond House make the BWI region an excellent choice for conferences and meetings.
Groups and individuals driving into Annapolis will find a host of options at their fingertips with the AnnapolisNOW app the CVB introduced last fall. Colorful decals bearing the AnnapolisNOW logo affixed to downtown Annapolis meters welcome visitors upon their arrival. The message is reinforced via tabletop signs and coasters in many downtown Annapolis restaurants.
Del Signore is committed to spreading word of the power of tourism locally and across the country. Earlier this year, she began serving on the U.S. Travel Association’s (USTA) board of directors. Del Signore was among nine individuals who began their first two-year term as at-large directors when the USTA’s spring board meeting convened at the organization’s Washington, D.C., offices.
Her appointment was the result of a member-wide USTA vote. In her new capacity, Del Signore is working with proven travel industry leaders in their ongoing efforts to cultivate travel opportunities, enhance the economic impact of travel on the nation, and build awareness and support for the vital role tourism plays in the national economy.
The tourism industry is alive and well in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. According to a “Tourism Economics” study commissioned by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, 6.4 million individuals spent $3.4 billion while visiting Annapolis and Anne Arundel County in 2013 (the most recent figures available). This represents an 8% and 2.4% increase, respectively.
The Tourism Industry
To help ensure the future growth of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s tourism industry, the CVB has established a scholarship fund designed to make it easier for Anne Arundel County residents to pursue careers in tourism. Del Signore kicked off the “Scholarship Challenge Fund” when she presented the Maryland Tourism Education Foundation (MTEF) with a $12,500 check during the CVB’s National Tourism Day festivities in May.
In keeping with USTA’s National Tourism Week theme, “Travel is Jobs,” Del Signore challenged all interested individuals to match the CVB’s donation, achieving a scholarship fund of $25,000 in time for the CVB’s 25th anniversary celebration at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium’s new Akerson Tower on Sept. 17.
According to Del Signore, “Our industry is a significant player in Anne Arundel County’s economy. We can help keep it that way by providing promising individuals with the help they need to jump-start a career in travel and tourism. Our young people are the future of the hospitality industry. Money spent on helping them realize their dreams will come back to the community and our nation one hundredfold.”
In 2013, 20,386 people were directly employed by tourism jobs.
If recent kudos for the destination are any indication, FY 2016 promises to be a year of growth for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s tourism industry.
In the winter of 2015, Travel & Leisure Magazine named Maryland’s capital city one of “America’s Best College Towns.” Just in time for the Fourth of July, TravelChannel.com ranked Annapolis among the top 10 best “All-American Vacations” for 2015. And in August, Annapolis made USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice list for “Best Under-the-Radar Romantic Destinations.”
As Del Signore sees it, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s recent designation of Annapolis as a National Treasure says it all. Her advice to would-be visitors? “Don’t take our word for it; come and find out for yourself.”