Tourism's must-do-list

January 20, 1997

After the Washington County's General Assembly delegation reneged on a pledge to hold hearings last summer on the county's tourism-promotion effort, the City of Hagerstown spearheaded a move to get new legislation ready for the 1997.

Now the tourism board is balking, in part because members don't want to resign to let a transition team guide the reorganization. If elected officials are serious about improving this department, they'll ignore the protest and introduce legislation now.

We say that not to denigrate the work being done by those who work on the county's citizen boards, for little or no pay. But with the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam coming up, this effort needs more than the promises of the current board that it will be given top-priority handling. That's because between now and September, the following tasks must be completed:

- Creation of a mechanism for tracking effectiveness of department activities, so officials can determine whether the best "bang for the buck" is obtained by handing out brochures, or through advertising and other commercial promotions.


- Educating residents and workers in food service and other meet-the-public industries on how important it is to be friendly to visitors, and to be able to direct them to local attractions.

- Starting work on some eye-catching logo material that will identify Civil War sites (and the places where tourists can get information about them) to visitors. A tasteful official souvenir of the battle's 135th anniversary should also be agreed upon as soon as possible.

- Agreeing on tour packages that would include overnight accommodations, visits to local Civil War sites and a performance at the Maryland Theatre.

- Working with local government to create better signs, to keep main streets clean and to provide parking for tour buses and visitors' cars.

A big list? You bet. But completing most items is essential if Washington County wants to make first-time visitors feel welcome enough to come back again and again.

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