BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After taking a big hit last year, the tourism industry in Maryland is rebounding as pandemic restrictions ease.
“We expect the summer to be very very busy,” said Pete Mangione, the general manager of Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City. “We’re seeing that indivisible packages have picked up. You know there’s a lot of people last year who couldn’t go on vacation, so we’ve had a lot of locals who just come here.”
Thousands of Maryland’s tourism jobs were lost and travel spending was down 43 percent in the state in 2020, but much of the industry is starting to regain the momentum it lost.
“It’s no longer we’re looking at the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re in the light,” said Tom Riford, the state’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce. “Things are very busy. Our bookings are way up. Tourism spending is coming back and we’re adding a lot of jobs into Maryland’s economy.”
Some parts of the industry that did well last year, like golf at Turf Valley Resort, are continuing to see success.
“Through the entire thing, golf has been very, very busy,” said Mangione. “Our members who typically play, let’s say they play one day a week. Those people who played one day a week are now playing twice a week.”
Eastern Watersports in Middle River is also experiencing a boom in business after many came out last year to try out water sports during the pandemic.
“We definitely had a lot of people who wouldn’t normally have chosen to come out and kayak and paddleboard. They were just looking for anything to do,” said Philip DePalo, the owner of the company.
Maryland State Parks saw a huge increase in visitors in 2020, as people looked to get out of the house. The Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism said there was a 45% increase in visitors in 2020 compared to 2019.
Attendance is now also up at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.
“People are ready to get out. And so we have seen increasing numbers here at the museum over the month of May and into the month of June, said Terri Freeman, the executive director of the museum.
State officials say anyone looking to take a trip in Maryland can go to visitmaryland.org to find out more about places to visit and activities to try out.