By Tim Williams

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — State lawmakers, business leaders and tourism professionals celebrate the fourth annual Maryland Tourism Day. It’s a chance to brainstorm and jump start the year’s tourism.

Tim Williams has more on their hopes for 2014.

It’s the time of year state tourism professionals spread the message, starting in Annapolis and reaching from the sea of people on Ocean City’s boardwalk to the shining sea of buildings at the Inner Harbor.

“From a destination standpoint, Baltimore and Ocean City are our top-visited destinations,” said Maryland Tourism Executive Director Margot Amelia.

So the plan is to distribute the wealth and the tourists by aggressively promoting statewide attractions beyond the obvious ones. It’s an economic impact that really adds up.

“Visitors spend $14.9 billion in the state, and that represents $2 billion in local and state taxes, so it helps to pay for schools and public safety and all the important things,” Amelia said.

At Fort McHenry, tourism has survived government shutdowns and furloughs, but not without innovative methods of promotion.

“The page helps you plan your trip. So obviously directions, cost and just a brief overview,” one visitor said.

Tourism experts say one key to driving promotion is social media, meaning your trip starts long before you arrive.

“Your website is the best thing to do, and it still is, but now we’re finding Facebook and now Twitter are becoming more popular,” said National Parks Service Chief of Interpretation Vince Vaise.

Hopes are tourism overall will be more popular statewide in 2014.

For more information on this year’s activities, click here.

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