Visit Baltimore, the official destination sales and marketing organization for the city of Baltimore, held its annual meeting on Wednesday, November 15 at the M&T Bank Exchange at the France Merrick Center for Performing Arts. This year’s meeting recapped Visit Baltimore’s 2023 Fiscal Year initiatives and explored the theme of storytelling through a fireside chat between two creative visionaries celebrating their love of Baltimore.
Over 400 hospitality industry professionals, elected officials and local stakeholders attended the meeting which highlighted the impact of Baltimore’s tourism industry along with Visit Baltimore’s sales, marketing and communication efforts over the past fiscal year. Baltimore is nearing pre-pandemic levels in terms of visitation. In 2022, domestic travel to Baltimore increased by 39% in 2022, bringing in $3.7 billion to Baltimore’s economy according to data released by Longwoods International.
“The Visit Baltimore team has spent the past year working to not only improve the quality of life for our visitors through their experiences in Baltimore, but also to improve the quality of life for our community by driving economic impact that goes back into our city,” said Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “And with a tremendous amount of investment in development projects around the city, right now, it is Baltimore’s time – we truly offer something for everyone, from ease of access for travelers, walkability, a beautiful waterfront, diversity in people, arts, culture and an amazing up and coming dining scene. It is wonderful to align with our hospitality industry partners as we work to tell a Baltimore story that is authentic, welcoming and inclusive.”
Speakers included Charles “Chuck” Tildon III, Chair of the Baltimore Convention & Tourism Board; Wes Moore, Governor of Maryland; Brandon M. Scott, Mayor of Baltimore city; Nick Mosby, President of the Baltimore City Council; Al Hutchinson, President & CEO of Visit Baltimore; and Ron Legler, President of the France Merrick Center for Performing Arts.
Unique Robinson, spoken-word artist, author and Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at MICA moderated a fireside chat with travel journalist Daniel Scheffler, storyteller and rabble-rouser who has contributed to the New York Times, National Geographic, Wallpaper, SPIN and various other publications for the last 20 years. The pair spoke about the power of authentic storytelling and shared their love of all-things Baltimore in a spirited discussion about Charm City’s renaissance.
Terri L. Freeman, President of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History &. Culture and member of the Baltimore Convention & Tourism Board presented Visit Baltimore’s annual awards including the Charm City Champion Award to Fulton Bank Vice President of Community Affairs, Dionne Waldron McNeal; the Bridge Award to Kondwani Fidel, poet, educator, and pen behind Visit Baltimore’s Your People Are Here and Beneath the Shell poems, along with the Oriole’s 30th Anniversary and City Connect Campaigns; and the William Donald Schaefer Visionary Tourism Award, to Kris Hoellen, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum.
Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, Managing Director of the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism and Film presented the Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association Star Awards to eleven representatives from Baltimore’s hospitality industry and the Maryland Tourism Coalition’s Tourism Person of the Year Award to Terry Hasseltine, President of the Maryland Sports Commission.
As part of the celebration, Visit Baltimore shared that the organization is one of seven destinations to receive the 2023 AFAR Magazine Vanguard award, which honors organizations that are moving the travel industry forward through community-focused initiatives, for its Warm Welcome program which requires Baltimore-based hospitality entities to sign a pledge in exchange for access to cutting-edge diversity, equity and inclusion modules.
To close out the meeting, Visit Baltimore announced the creation of a new Mobile Visitor Center, which will launch in 2024 and serve as traveling hub for learning about Baltimore’s attractions, hotels, restaurants, museums and culture around the region.
To view the Visit Baltimore Fiscal Year 2023 Annual Report, please click here.