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County sees double-digit increases in tourism during 2012

April 07, 2013

Washington County was the only one in Maryland that saw double-digit increases in hotel occupancy and lodging revenue during 2012, and it led the state in increased room demand, according to a biannual report from the Maryland Office of Tourism Development.

The county saw a 9.3 percent rise in room demand, a 12.1 increase in room revenue and an 11.1 percent increase in hotel occupancy, the Maryland Lodging Monitor reported.

Western Maryland’s lodging gains outpaced those in Central Maryland. Western Maryland’s room demand increased 7.1 percent in 2012, the region’s room revenue increased 7.4 percent and its occupancy increased 8.2 percent. On the other hand, room demand in Central Maryland increased 1.2 percent over 2011, while room revenue increased 3.6 percent and occupancy decreased 0.3 percent, according to the report.

Tom Riford, chief executive officer of the Hagers-town-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a news release that his county’s success in 2012 was the product of several years of aggressive marketing combined with timely events, such as the 150th Civil War anniversary and the reopening of the Big Slackwater section of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal after a $17 million restoration.

Washington County’s visitation increased from 2.1 million guests in 2011 to 2.9 million in 2012, and attendance to its top 18 attractions increased across the board, Riford said.

The Civil War commemorations brought in more people to the battlefield memorials at Antietam and South Mountain, but those events accounted only for a month’s worth of visitors.

Meanwhile, visitors to the C&O Canal rose 91 percent, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum saw a 57 percent increase in visitors and other attractions accounted for a 36 percent spike in visitation to the county, Riford said.

Overall, the entire state saw smaller gains in lodging revenue, occupancy and room demand during 2012. Lodging revenue increased 3.4 percent, room demand rose 1.3 percent and occupancy rates increased 0.5 percent, according to the Maryland Lodging Monitor, which uses data from Smith Travel Research.

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