Baltimore's Inner Harbor Gears Up for Summer Tourism

Posted 06/14/2011
by Amy McNeal
bmore - Baltimore News

Tourism is heating up for the summer in Baltimore. As the city enters a summer packed with headline-making events like the Grand Prix and Baltimore Pride, the hospitality sector is looking forward to a busy and profitable season. 

"Tourism is lifting itself, and doing very well," says Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. 

At the Inner Harbor, increased tourism spending is providing opportunities for growth. The Rusty Scupper, a staple of the Inner Harbor tourist trade, expects revenues to increase 25% this year. The National Aquarium and The Maryland Science Center are also experiencing increases in visitor traffic and revenue. Baltimore's popular free bus service, The Charm City Circulator is experiencing increased ridership, and expects to reach 2 million riders this year. 

Visit Baltimore has taken the expected increase in tourism seriously. Through its Certified Tourism Ambassador program, Visit Baltimore aims to have hundreds of specially trained personnel around the city to provide welcoming help to visitors. The program will train hospitality industry workers, police officers, cab drivers and workers in other tourism related industries to help tourists navigate the city and answer questions about history, venues and landmarks. 

"We're training a knowledgeable force, so that as a guest you'll run into someone who is certified, has taken a class and passed an exam," adds Noonan. 

Hotel occupancy is increasing, fueled by both a rebounding travel market and a healthy convention business downtown. Baltimore's hoteliers are adding approximately 2,500 new rooms to handle the increased demand. The city's hospitality profile will increase with the addition of the new Four Seasons Hotel in 2012.

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