Hagerstown gains on 'places to visit' list

February 10, 1997


Staff Writer

Hagerstown has moved up to sixth place on Maryland's 1995 Top 10 Destinations list, according to a U.S. Travel Data Center survey.

In 1994, Hagerstown ranked 10th on the list.

"It's great news, and another indication that more tourists are discovering Hagerstown," said Leroy Burtner, executive director of the Hagerstown/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"I think it's an indication of the diversity and number of attractions that occur year-round in Hagerstown and Washington County."

One possible reason for the increased interest in Hagerstown is its proximity to history.

"Historical tourism is a very strong draw to Washington County, and the word may be getting out to history buffs," said Andrew Spitzler, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.


Another explanation could be Hagerstown's proximity to the interstate highways, Burtner said.

"I think the advantage that Hagerstown has is it's transportation-oriented," Burtner said.

"The interstate highway system is a tremendous asset in attracting tourists and visitors," he said.

He said Washington County Regional Airport provides a convenient entry into Hagerstown, and that from 1994 to 1995, the number of visitors to Western Maryland by plane increased 13.3 percent.

Efforts to promote Hagerstown and Washington County are ongoing, enhanced by the receipt of about $18,100 from the state to support local tourism marketing.

"Our goal is to encourage more visitors to come to Hagerstown - visit Gettysburg (Pa.) and Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) - but stay in Hagerstown. We are very aggressively promoting that," Burtner said.

Carl Moser, manager of the 73-room Dagmar Hotel on Summit Avenue, said he noticed a 5 percent increase in travelers in 1995 and the first part of 1996, but he wishes there were more attractions to keep travelers within Hagerstown city limits.

"The biggest problem is everything is on the outskirts. People may stop a night here for something at the Maryland Theatre," Moser said. "But mainly the stop here is part of a journey to somewhere else."

Travelscope, a department of the U.S. Travel Data Center, compiles the Top 10 lists. Travel surveys are mailed to households nationwide each month, and returned surveys are counted, said Patrick Thompson, director of Travelscope studies.

A city's position on the Top 10 list reflects the number of times it is listed as a destination on the surveys, Thompson said.

To be counted as a destination, the trip must be at least 50 miles one way from the traveler's home, Spitzler said.

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