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October 2016

In This Issue


Tourism and Hospitality Master Plan - Approaching the Finish Line!


Tourism Manager Carolyn Laray Set to Retire


SMCT Delivered in FY16


SMCT Participates in Mid-Atlantic Travel Writer Conference


New Look, Functionality for Tourism Website Coming Soon


Goodbye and Thank You to Heritage Area's Roz Racanello


New Director for the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium


Farewell and Congrats to Park Manager Christy Bright


US Oyster Festival Celebrates its 50th on October 15 & 16. Governor to Attend


Patuxent River Naval Air Museum's New Exhibit Hall & Visitor Center Now Open


New Firemen's Museum, More Green Space in Downtown Leonardtown


Event Sign at the Charlotte Hall Welcome Center to Go Digital


Tourism Welcomes New Chamber CEO and Tourism Partner


Great Showing by Port of Leonardtown Winery


The Dove Turns Heads in Baltimore


Department of Economic Development Welcomes New Addition to Staff


Add Your Events to the VisitMaryland.org Calendar

Ongoing Industry Meetings

 

St. Mary’s Chamber of Commerce Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Council

Fourth Thursday of the month
8 AM
St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce Office, California
Meeting of Council Members. Open to industry stakeholders.
Contact Chamber Office for more information: 301-737-3001


Leonardtown Business Association Meeting

Second Friday of the month
8:30 AM
Various Leonardtown locations
Businesses, organizations and other corporate entities located in Leonardtown meet to discuss ways to promote the Town. For membership and meeting information, contact admin@thelba.org


St. Mary’s County Hotels Meeting

Third Tuesday of the month
1:30 PM
Location varies
St. Mary’s County hotels meet with SMCT to discuss industry topics, programs and marketing initiatives. Contact SMCT for meeting info and location at 301-475-4200 ext. 1404.

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Tourism & Hospitality Master Plan - Approaching the Finish Line!

We are approaching completion of the first-ever tourism and hospitality master plan for St. Mary’s County! The final draft will soon go to the Master Plan Committee for review. The plan, produced by the consultant team of Jones, Lang and Lasalle, promises to be an industry game-changer, ultimately moving beyond projects and programs to changes in how we conduct the business of tourism here in the County. SMCT will provide info regarding upcoming presentations and will post the final plan. Click here to view earlier Phase I reports.

Tourism Manager Carolyn Laray Set to Retire

Carolyn Laray is set to leave county government employ at the end of this year after nearly fifteen years on the job. Commenting on her time at SMCT, Carolyn notes: “I absolutely love my job as tourism manager, and it's been a total joy working with so many kind and generous folks during the course of so many years. I can truly say - Best Part of My Job!”
 
During her tenure, Carolyn worked to build a cohesive tourism and hospitality industry based on partnerships, and culminating in work on the master plan cited above. She professionalized and expanded the scope of tourism activities, strengthening the County’s presence in advertising, marketing, and public relations. She created a co-op advertising program to assist local destinations and event producers, established an independent travel & tourism website for the county, oversaw creation of the two county visitor centers, served on the Chamber’s Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Council and the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium, and participated in the creation of numerous regional projects and programs including the region’s Religious Freedom National Scenic Byway.












Carolyn Laray, St. Mary’s County Tourism Manager

SMCT Delivered in FY16

FY16 numbers are in and data has been crunched. FY16 highlights include a 62% increase in local Admissions and Amusement Tax revenue, and an increase in local Accommodations Tax revenue of 28%. Our local hotels saw a 17% increase in room occupancy, and hotel revenue was up 19.5%. In keeping with SMCT’s objective to increase weekend hotel stays, in FY16, Friday and Saturday occupancy increased by 5.1% and 4.2% respectively over last year. SMCT saw an increase of visitors to the Travel & Tourism website of 19.25% and delivered 127,334 outbound links to the websites of local tourism and hospitality businesses. The push in social media continued with Facebook likes climbing to 22,593, engaged users climbing to over 76,000, and total reach of page content climbing to more than 1.8 million users. SMCT’s Public Relations efforts also saw gains with 45 published travel-related articles in national and regional publications and travel websites, including Huffington Post, Thrillist, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, Washingtonian, Chicago Tribune, and more. In terms of visitation, as reported by our sites and attractions, combined daily visitation was over 643,000 and event attendance as reported by our event producers was over 244,000.

SMCT Participates in Mid-Atlantic Travel Writer Conference 

Tourism Coordinator Andrew Ponti participated in the annual Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance (MATPRA) conference which took place in Talbot County, MD on September 13-15, 2016. The conference provides tourism public relations professionals a chance to engage travel writers and promote their Mid-Atlantic locations as story-worthy. Over 50 writers attended this year’s conference.













Andrew Ponti, Tourism Coordinator, representing St. Mary's County to travel writers at MATPRA Marketplace in Talbot County, MD

New Look, Functionality for Tourism Website Coming Soon

To stay competitive in the ever-changing landscape of online media, SMCT has been hard at work giving the St. Mary's County Travel & Tourism website a fresh new look and enhanced functionality. The site will have the most up-to-date mobile capabilities along with streamlined site navigation, new page designs, and lots of photos. SMCT's objective is to push even more visitors to sites, attractions, restaurants, lodgings, and other tourism and hospitality partners throughout St. Mary's County. Look for these updates before year's end.
 

Screenshot preview of the refreshed "See & Do" landing page

Goodbye and Thank You to Heritage Area’s Roz Racanello

Southern Maryland said goodbye recently to heritage area director, Roz Racanello. Roz headed the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium since its inception in 2004. Under her leadership, hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grant funding has come to the region’s historic sites and museums. She also established the successful mini-grant program and rose to become the leading voice for the state's Heritage Areas in Annapolis.












Roz with citations from the So. MD. Boards of Commissioners and Legislators

New Director for the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium

Lucille Ward Walker stepped into the position as SMHAC director in September. Lucille brings a background in senior level management, creating innovative partnerships, proposal writing, grant management, and promotion and planning to the job. She is a native Marylander whose prior work included assisting the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission as a consultant and business plan writer. Lucille can be reached at SoMdHeritage@tccsmd.org
















Lucille Ward Walker, new director of SMHAC

Farewell and Congrats to Park Manager Christy Bright

Christy Bright, park manager for the five state parks in the county for over fifteen years, was recently transferred and promoted. In September, she became manager for the Western Region of the Maryland Park Service. Christy has been an amazing tourism partner. She oversaw the opening of Newtowne Neck State Park and countless capital projects and improvements at all five state parks in St. Mary's County. She weathered hurricanes, dealt with unexploded ordinance, and over-capacity summertime crowds. Most of all, she worked tirelessly to make sure our state parks were great places to visit. Lead ranger Dawn Letts is now acting director. Dawn has over 17 years experience with MD Park Service and will continue to guide park staff and ensure the success of Point Lookout State Park. View the popular video of Christy on the job.
 

Ranger Christy Bright

US Oyster Festival Celebrates its 50th on October 15 & 16. Governor to attend.

The tourism team has been busy marketing and promoting this milestone anniversary. Based on past years’ counts, over 100,000 oysters are expected to be consumed over the course of the two-day event. The event features the National Oyster Cook-off and the US National Oyster Shucking Competition. Governor Hogan will be on hand on Sunday to award the top prize to the Shucking Champion. Click here for more info and video.













Last year’s event drew 20,000 attendees

Patuxent River Naval Air Museum's New Exhibit Hall & Visitor Center Now Open

With the opening of the new exhibit hall this summer, visitation to the museum has taken off! The hall also houses the county’s second visitor info center and an enlarged museum shop. Now work begins on refurbishing the original exhibit building and the storage building which will house the museum’s archives. Promotion has also taken flight with the newest addition to the PRNAM team, mascot Oscar Falco. Look for this finely-feathered friend out and about at museum and county events.











Oscar Falco was designed by renowned aviation artist Hank Caruso

New Firemen’s Museum, More Green Space in Downtown Leonardtown

The Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department is set to move forward with construction of a museum in the downtown area that will interpret the rich history of rural fire service in Southern Maryland. That tradition included carnivals which often kept rural departments in “business,” and the museum will showcase both its antique firefighting equipment and its vintage carousel. The Town has received grant funds to construct a park adjacent to the museum, affording over an acre and one-half of new green space in the downtown.
 











 
First Fire House and Crew, 1930

Event Sign at the Charlotte Hall Welcome Center to Go Digital

The message board on the roadside sign along Route 5, that is shared by the Welcome Center and the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, will soon go digital. The new sign will be more visible to fast-moving traffic as it announces upcoming county tourism events and activities.

Tourism Welcomes New Chamber CEO and Tourism Partner

Chamber of Commerce Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Council members recently sat down with new chamber president and CEO Paul Junge to brief him on the current state of county tourism and the master-planning process, and to discuss ways to enhance the council’s role within the Chamber. Paul arrives in the county with an extensive background in law, public policy, and governmental affairs and takes the reins from longtime tourism champion and valued industry partner Bill Scarafia, who retired earlier this year. Click Here to learn more about Paul

















Paul Junge, new CEO of SMCCC

Great Showing by Port of Leonardtown Winery

Congratulations to Port of Leonardtown Winery for the many awards won at the 2016 Maryland Governor's Cup Wine Competition! Medals include: Gold medals for Albariño 2015, Chambourcin 2014, McIntosh Run NV, and Tributary White 2015; Silver medals for 5th Anniversary White NV, Captain’s Table 2014, and Chaptico Rosé 2015; and Bronze medals for Barbera 2013. Click here to visit Port of Leonardtown Winery's website.
 


 












Winemaster Lauren Zimmerman with a winning wine

The Dove Turns Heads in Baltimore

This past August, the crew of Historic St. Mary’s City’s Maryland Dove set sail for Baltimore and anchored for several days at the Inner Harbor. The voyage brought attention to Maryland’s early history as told at the historic site, and made the news on Baltimore’s CBS station, WJZ. Check out the clip.









 

Department of Economic Development Welcomes New Addition to Staff

Katherine Stormont recently joined the Business Division of DED. Katherine has extensive experience in both the corporate technology marketplace and the nonprofit sector. In 2007 she established a marketing consulting business in St Mary’s County and has worked with the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, MedStar St Mary’s Hospital, St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services and St. Mary’s County Health Department. She has provided marketing support to the College of Southern Maryland and Sotterley Plantation and has served as the Marketing Committee Co-chair for the Leonardtown Business Association. 
 
 
Katherine Stormont, Economic Development Specialist

Add your Events to the VisitMaryland.org Calendar

SMCT adds major events listed on the County’s Travel & Tourism Website to the state’s tourism calendar. However, SMCT does not add all events, so please check the VisitMaryland.org website and add your events if they are not posted there. It’s easy: 1) Visit http://visitmaryland.org/events-calendar; 2) click “Add Event”; 3) create an account/enter log-in information; 4) enter your information and click “Save”! If you are unsure if your event is already entered on the VisitMaryland.org website, please contact Tourism Coordinator Andrew Ponti at andrew.ponti@stmarysmd.com
Copyright © 2016 Commissioners of St. Mary's County, All rights reserved.
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