By Kelsey Kushner

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Ravens games are one of those things that bring fans from near and far into the Baltimore city. It’s great news for local businesses that took a huge hit during this pandemic.

This week marks Maryland travel and tourism week. City officials are partnering with the state to bring back tourism and jobs.

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A rally was held this afternoon at the National Aquarium about the importance of tourism to the city’s economy.

Because of the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry in Baltimore and nationwide, suffered a tremendous loss when it comes to both money and jobs.

But now, officials are hoping to rebuild Baltimore one business at a time.

“We are a resilient industry and we are excited to welcome people back,” said Chris Riehl, chair of the Maryland Tourism Coalition.

On Tuesday, members of Visit Baltimore and the Maryland Tourism Coalition met with state leaders putting a spotlight on the challenges covid brought to the tourism industry.

“Some of our venues had unbelievable losses down 80%,” said Tom Riford, the assistant secretary of commerce for tourism.

The industry suffered a tremendous loss in money and jobs. The unemployment numbers nearly doubled those of the great depression.

Restaurants like Philips Seafood say they took a major hit as the pandemic ramped up.

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“Our business is driven off of tourism,” said Michelle Torres. “Ninety percent of our business was all tourism.”

“We had no one here,” Torres continued. “None of the offices were back working and a lot of our business during the week came from that.”

State officials said the tourism and travel industry generates billions of dollars every year and provides over 150,000 jobs.

Now, Gov. Larry Hogan says more than $210 million in funding will go to hotels, restaurants, local tourism offices and entertainment venues to help them get back on their feet.

“We really want to do our part to get people back to work in our industry,” Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore said.

As restrictions continue to ease and travel ramps up, many hope Baltimore makes a strong comeback.

“We are ready to open back up again and become that economic engine that our industry can be,” Riehl said.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott echoed the decision saying it’s important to get the economy back up and running.

The Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office says in 2019, visitor spending totaled $18.6 million and generated $2.6 billion in state and local taxes, saving each household in Maryland $1,175.

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There will be daily giveaways on social media will be tied to rotating themes such as family travel, history and heritage, romance, outdoor adventure, and everyone’s favorite topic – food & drink. Giveaways include overnight stays at Maryland hotels, Six Flags America admission tickets and local restaurant gift cards.

Kelsey Kushner