LA PLATA, Md. (AP) — Officials in a Maryland county where a historic ship graveyard was recently designated a national marine sanctuary are hoping the recognition will also bring economic benefits.

Kellie Hinkle is chief of the tourism division for the Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism.

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She tells The Daily Record the newly dubbed Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary could see about a 20 percent increase in tourism visitors. She says hotel occupancy and restaurant traffic will also likely increase.

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The marine sanctuary designation was announced last week. The site about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Washington, D.C., contains more than 100 abandoned steamships.

Charles County administrator Mark Belton says there are early talks about creating a visitors center and a job training site for marine biology and environmental science nearby.

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