The first quarter of Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018) is off to a good start for tourism in the Deep Creek lake area and Garrett County, Maryland with a 5.9% increase in county accommodations sales, a 19.6% increase in heads on beds, a 8.5% increase in visitors to the Chamber’s website, visitdeepcreek.com and a 17% increase in Visitor Guide requests. 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 an 11% increase in county accommodations collections in August 2017 over August 2016, a 53% increase in heads on beds and an 8.3% increase in sales tax collections.
“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 FY 18.”
Garrett County experienced similar tourism increases in fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) with a 6.9% increase in county accommodations sales, a 8.6% increase in heads on beds, a 3.6% increase in sales tax collections and a 41% increase in Visitor Guide requests.
According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, Garrett County’s increases even outpaced Maryland’s tourism growth. For Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), Maryland grew sales tax revenues specific to tourism 4.1%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 6.8% during the same time period. Maryland grew lodging sales tax code collections 6.0% and restaurant sales tax code collections 3.0% while Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 8.7% and restaurant sales tax code collections 5.6%.
“These ongoing increases in tourism growth for Garrett County have even been recognized by the State by way of increased advertising dollars through our County Cooperative Marketing Match Grant,” said Christian. “We now receive the 7th highest grant amount in the State behind only Ocean City, Worchester County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County. That is impressive for such a small county.”
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.