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State awards $500,000 to Pocomoke City’s Discovery Center

After declaring Pocomoke City to be Maryland’s “Capital for a Day,” Aug. 21, Gov. Martin O’Malley presented a $500,000 check to Worcester County to help construct a building that will house a restaurant at the newly opened Delmarva Discovery Center on the Pocomoke River.

“This investment will not only generate jobs for Pocomoke City, but will also help to revitalize Pocomoke City’s business district into a more active tourism and retail center,” the governor said.

The 100-seat restaurant will initially create 35 jobs. It will be in a 4,000 square-foot building that includes additional commercial tenants. “The riverfront restaurant package represents the final jewel in the crown of downtown redevelopment for Pocomoke City,” said the town’s mayor, Michael McDermott.

Delmarva Discovery Center is a living museum where visitors can learn and become familiar with the river’s ecology and history, as well as its associated traditions – shipbuilding, trading, fishing and regional Native-American culture.

It will have a grand opening in the late fall after all of its exhibits are installed and the full range of programming is in effect. Meanwhile, the museum is open to visitors on a limited basis. The facility is expected to annually draw 10,000 visitors for the first few years of operation.

Development of the Discovery Center was funded by three state bond issues – in 2004, 2006, and 2007 – for $150,000 each. The Maryland Heritage Area Authority also awarded the museum $10,000 last year for Native American-related exhibits.

The complex includes two buildings – the Discovery Center and the Exploratory. The Discovery Center, a 16,000-square-foot 1920s-era building, houses exhibits, a gift shop, a classroom and administrative space. The adjacent Exploratory is a converted gas station that is the museum’s educational center, where students can conduct environmental research.

Six volunteers who have been working at the Discovery Center and three other Pocomoke City tourism sites – the Mar-Va Theater, the Sturgis One Room School Museum and the Costen House Museum – received governor’s citations during Gov. O'Malley's visit. Hannah Byron, assistant secretary for the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, made the presentations with Del. James N. Mathias Jr., a member of the Maryland Tourism Development Board.

Arts Council awards public art grants to five counties

Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that the Maryland State Arts Council has awarded public art grants to five counties, totaling $22,970. The matching grants will support public art projects in Anne Arundel, Washington, Howard, Frederick and Queen Anne’s counties.

“Art has the power to build communities, enhance our natural and man-made landscapes and elevate the role of aesthetic excellence in our daily lives,” the governor said. “When artists and citizens collaborate, the results transform communities in ways both subtle and strong, but always significant.”

The grants range from $3,950 to $5,000. An Arts Council grants advisory panel evaluated nine proposals from county arts councils and made its recommendations. The Council is part of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, an agency of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Gov. O’Malley appointed the members of the Maryland Commission on Public Art in March. The commission – directed by the Arts Council – is charged with implementing the state’s first formal public art program through community sculptures, murals and other works.

In 2007, the Maryland arts industry generated more than $1.2 billion for the state’s economy and provided more than 15,000 jobs for Maryland residents.


Monthly report details impact of tourism marketing

The latest edition of the Maryland Tourism Office’s monthly report – the Maryland Tourism Monitor – that measures visitor activity, advertising response and state travel trends is now available online.

“It’s so important to track industry trends on a more consistent basis” said Margot Amelia, executive director of the Tourism Office. “These reports help to identify both needs and opportunities.”

The latest data available has a three-month lag – so this month Insights highlights May 2008 activity. From a Tourism Office perspective, this year’s web visitation continues to outpace last year’s, even though May’s 2008 usage lagged behind 2007. From an industry standpoint, hotel occupancy statewide is down 2.17 percent from 2007, while hotel sales tax revenues are up 7.18 percent year-to-date.


Filmmakers convene for Imagine Maryland forum

As part of the Imagine Maryland strategic-planning process, the Maryland State Arts Council invited a group of more than 20 Maryland filmmakers to discuss the state’s film industry at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance at the Patterson, Aug. 18.

The forum was intended to identify the needs of filmmakers and how the Arts Council can support the further development of this industry and its impact on Maryland’s creative economy.

During the meeting, filmmakers said they valued Maryland for filming for such reasons as: “the attitude and spirit here;” “a diversity of people” for casting; “architecture;” proximity to other cities; “affordable talent;” and a growing artistic community.


Tourism Office looking for ABA sponsors, volunteers

In anticipation of the American Bus Association’s annual convention – Marketplace – coming to Maryland in January 2010, the Tourism Office, along with Destination DC, Northern Virginian Visitors Consortium and Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, will host the closing night dinner at the upcoming ABA event, Jan. 12, 2009, in Charlotte, N.C.

Rich Gilbert, who coordinates the Tourism Office’s interaction with the motorcoach industry, is seeking sponsors and volunteers for both the Charlotte celebration and the 2010 event that will take place at Gaylord National in Prince George’s County.

Sponsorships for the Charlotte dinner are priced at $1,000 for convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and $500 for nonprofit museums. The 2010 host committee is looking for volunteers for a variety of committees, including: welcoming; transportation; dine-around; evening events; hospitality education; and sightseeing tours. For information, contact Rich Gilbert at 410-767-6288.

ABA represents more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour companies in the United States and Canada.


New web site promotes Worcester ’s eco-tourism

A newly launched public-private-nonprofit partnership, the Wilds of Worcester, has begun promoting eco-tourism opportunities in Worcester County. The partnership’s new web site, offers suggestions and contacts for cultural, historical, and outdoor activities, as well as information about the plants and wildlife indigenous to Maryland’s only seaside county.

“With wild ponies on Assateague Island, herons and egrets along the Coastal Bays and bald cypress swamps along the Pocomoke River, few places offer more ways for people to enjoy nature than Worcester County,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Sponsors of the web site – including the Maryland Tourism Office, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences – are asking state residents and visitors to explore Worcester and share their adventures on the site through photography, videos, itineraries, and writings.

“Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts visit because of Worcester County’s wide variety of affordable eco-tourism opportunities,” said Lisa Challenger, Worcester County’s tourism director.


National Geographic Traveler magazine listed Salisbury among its top 50 places to live and play.


Save the Date: Tourism conference, Nov. 10-12 at Gaylord
The Maryland Governor’s Tourism Industry Conference will be at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Nov. 10-12. Gaylord is the anchor of the new National Harbor project overlooking the Potomac River in Prince George’s County. Members of the Maryland Tourism Council (MTC) can attend at a reduced rate. For MTC membership information, call Amy Winston at 443-370-7989.

Tourism Office to participate at outdoor show in February
The Tourism Office will host a booth at the Eastern Outdoor Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 7-15, 2009. This show – largest of its kind on the East Coast – attracts outdoor sports enthusiasts from the mid-Atlantic region. For information about distributing your marketing material at the show, contact Rich Gilbert at 410-767-6288.

CRUSA announces international marketing opportunities
Capital Region USA (CRUSA) – a partnership of the Maryland Tourism Office, Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corporation – has a full range of international cooperative marketing opportunities available for 2009 in its new brochure.