Reporting Christie Ileto
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tens of thousands of visitors are flocking to Baltimore, and it’s not the Fourth of July holiday weekend that has them staying in hotels and eating out.
Christie Ileto explains why.
Hotels are booked and Baltimore sidewalks swell with out-of-towners here for the week-long Church of God in Christ Auxiliaries in Ministry Convention–called AIM.
“We’ve come to take over Baltimore,” said Linwood Dillard.
Event Chair Linwood Dillard tells WJZ what better place than Baltimore.
“Considering what the city of Baltimore has experienced over the last few weeks with several shootings and deaths,” he said. “I think it was by divine design that we’re here in the city of Baltimore.”
It’s been a violent couple of weeks for the city, but that hasn’t deterred event-goers, ready to further outreach and ministry, from coming.
Some writing on Facebook: “Yes! I am all packed for Baltimore, Md. & AIM 2013!”
“Our tourism industry stays strong because it’s word of mouth. It’s not what you see, but what you hear from people who visited makes people want to come back,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Breanna Jones is one of 30,000 estimated visitors to our town. And preliminary numbers show the week-long event will generate $19.1 million for the local economy.
“I want to go down to the harbor and check that out. I’ve been hearing a lot about it,” Jones said.
Attendees spend most of the day in the Convention Center. But when they’re not inside, they’re out shopping in our stores and dining in our restaurants.
“It brings a lot of value to the city, and we really appreciate them coming,” said Jack Young, City Council President.
While the convention wraps up this weekend, convention-goers tell WJZ the city has already made a good impression.
The last time AIM held its conference in Baltimore was in 2003.