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Hospitality leaders representing Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties were among about 200 Maryland tourism leaders assembled at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis on Feb. 8 to meet with legislators to advocate for the governor’s office budgets for the Maryland Tourism Development Board, the Office of Tourism Development and the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

Speaking on behalf of the Southern Maryland tourism community, Patrick Welton, general manager of the Hampton Inn Waldorf, said, “Now is not the time to fight over tourism spending.” In spite of a 16.9 percent market share increase since 2007, Maryland only saw an increase in occupancy of 0.05 percent in 2012 over 2011.

In 2012, Southern Maryland generated an estimated $438 million in tourism sales and $14.5 million in tourism taxes.

A recent study concluded that for every dollar invested in tourism promotion, Maryland realized $6 in state sales tax and more than $31 in state and local taxes.

Maryland and southern Calvert and St. Mary’s counties have been hard hit already by the preparation for mandated federal budget cuts that took place March 1 and the reality of severe defense budget cuts.

“Tourism promotion and the leveraging of the state and regional tourism assets will help to offset the effects of cuts to defense spending in revenue and associated tax dollars.” Welton said in the release.

Beverly Brown, chairwoman of the tourism advisory council of the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce, said, “It is estimated that one tour bus into the region visiting tourism assets can generate $10,000 to $12,000 for just one single overnight visit. Recently, St. Mary’s County saw a 44 percent increase in revenue from a previously unscheduled swimming championship using the pools at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland.”

Counties can leverage their recreational assets, such as fields and waters, to generate tourism traffic. Charles County sees an estimated $600,000 in economic impact for its sponsorship of the ASA Fast Pitch Girls Tournament, and $900,000 from FLW / Walmart Bass Fishing League’s Northeast Potomac River Tournament, the release states.

Tourism assets like Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum, Historic St. Mary’s City, Sotterley Plantation and other venues play host to destination weddings.