OCEAN CITY, Md. – Prior to his appearance at the Maryland Association of Counties meeting, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) arrived in Ocean City to lead a roundtable with business owners, hospitality industry leaders and fellow elected officials about public-private partnerships working to increase tourism and support tourism-related industry in the region. The discussion took place at Harrison’s Harbor Watch Restaurant adjacent to the iconic Ocean City Inlet.
Maryland’s travel and tourism industry supports more than 130,000 direct jobs with a payroll of more than $4.7 billion.
“In the very heart of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, tourism is big business and that means good jobs in Maryland year-round and seasonally. I am proud to work alongside the effective public-private partnerships that are protecting and growing our hospitality and tourism industry – Maryland’s 10th largest private sector employer,” said Senator Cardin. “I am committed to ensuring that the federal government is fully energized to support future growth of Maryland’s rising hospitality and tourism industry through all means possible.”
“Tourism, which employs over 15 % of our regional work force, is a major economic driver on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Federal support that our area receives, such as beach replenishment and dredging, is critical to the maintenance and growth this industry,” said Mike Pennington, Executive Director of the Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.
“Worcester County’s economy is driven by tourism and agriculture,” said William A. (Bill) Badger Jr., Worcester County Economic Development Director. “As Maryland’s entire Atlantic Ocean frontage, we must preserve and protect our fragile environment while balancing that with the need to create family supporting jobs for our citizens. Our federal partnerships are important to us to accomplish these goals.”
“As a small business owner for over 30 years, I understand how challenging and competitive our business environment is today, and share my business experience everyday with my fellow elected officials in the State and Federal government,” added Maryland Senator Jim Mathias, Jr. (Dist. 38). “Building upon and strengthening the role as state and federal representatives, provide to business is a critical part of the job we do as we work together with business leaders driving economic development and opportunities through tourism, agriculture, technology, and the entire business spectrum on the Eastern Shore and throughout Maryland.”
“Tourism is our economic engine; without it, we would not exist. In fiscal ‘13, our county tourism businesses generated over $24 million in sales tax revenue and in addition there are the room, food and amusement taxes which go to the city coffers,” Susan Jones, Executive Director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association said.
In 2012, Maryland had 35.4 million visitors, an increase of 30 percent since 2007. The two top destinations in Maryland are Baltimore and Ocean City. The Annual Report for Maryland shows more than $14.9 billion in visitor spending and more than $2 billion in State and local taxes.
Brand USA is a public-private entity to promote US tourism funded by a $10 user fee assessed on international visitors from certain visa waiver program countries and requires annual in-kind and cash matching contributions from the US tourism industry. The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (TPA; P.L. 111-145) authorizes federal funds for Brand USA but it expires at the end of FY15. Senator Cardin is a cosponsor of S. 2250, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 which would extend the TPA (and Brand USA) through 2020.