The first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) is off to a good start for tourism in the Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County, Maryland with an 8.0% increase in county accommodations sales, a 6.3% increase in Admissions & Amusement collections, a 128% increase in Visitor Guide requests and a 17.13% increase in visitors to the Chamber’s website, visitdeepcreek.com. While the Chamber attributes much of the continued growth in tourism to aggressive marketing efforts and new ad strategies, the newly implemented post-Labor Day start for Maryland Public Schools is also being credited with the increases.
With Maryland students returning to school after Labor Day rather than in mid-to-late August, Garrett County saw a 24.2% increase in county accommodations collections in August 2018 over August 2017.
“Anecdotally, we knew that Garrett County was seeing a positive economic impact from the later school start and now we have the empirical data,” said Nicole Christian, Chamber president & CEO. “Garrett County is capitalizing on our continued aggressive marketing strategies coupled with pro-growth policies like the post Labor Day school, as evidenced by the tourism increases for the first quarter of FY19. These stats validate that our efforts are effective and yielding strong results for our community.”
According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, Garrett County’s recent increases even outpaced Maryland’s tourism growth. For Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018), Maryland grew sales tax revenues specific to tourism 2.3%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 4.8% during the same time period. While Garrett County grew recreation and amusement places sales tax collections 7.6%, Maryland saw a decrease of 1.7%. Maryland grew lodging sales tax collections 2.2% and restaurant sales tax collections 2.5% while Garrett County grew them 4.6% and 5.5%, respectively.
“According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, visitors to Maryland spent nearly $17.7 billion generating $2.4 billion in state and local taxes,” said Christian. “Here in Garrett County, tourism is a key industry and critical component of economic development that creates jobs, supports businesses, and generates local taxes that fund schools, roads, infrastructure, etc. Without the revenue generated from tourism, each household would need to pay an additional $1,100 in taxes annually.
I’ve heard Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill say that Economic Development is a team sport; the Chamber’s aggressive marketing strategies, as the Destination Marketing Organization for the County, are ensuring that Garrett County Tourism is excelling at doing its part to grow this key industry in Maryland.”
Garrett County experienced similar tourism increases in fiscal year 2018 with a 7.0% increase in county accommodations sales, a 9.3% increase in heads on beds, a 29.5% in Visitor Guide requests and a 6.9% increase in visitors to the Chamber’s website, visitdeepcreek.com.
The western-most county in Maryland, Garrett County is home to Maryland’s largest freshwater lake, Deep Creek Lake, Wisp Resort, the state’s only ski resort, and Adventure Sports Center International, one of only two recirculating whitewater courses in the western hemisphere. Garrett County is less than a three-hour drive from the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, two hours from Pittsburgh, PA, Winchester, VA and Hagerstown, MD and a 45-minute drive from Morgantown, WV and Cumberland, MD.