The National Aquarium generated $455 million for Maryland in 2016, according to a new report commissioned by the Inner Harbor destination.
While the number of visitors to the aquarium in Baltimore has remained steady over the past five years, at about 1.3 million annually, the aquarium’s economic impact rose 42 percent from $319.6 million in 2012, the last time it was measured, according to the report by Sage Policy Group.
The aquarium attributed the growth in its economic impact to accelerated hiring, expanded community programs and facility improvements at the aquarium, plus increased spending among its visitors.
“It’s important for us to take a temperature every so often, to determine are we still making the economic impact we intended,” said Jennifer Driban, the aquarium’s vice president of government affairs.
Of the $455 million generated by the aquarium, about $362 million was in Baltimore.
The organization supports a total of 4,500 jobs statewide with $200 million in employee compensation, according to the report. Most of those jobs, about 3,900, are in Baltimore. A total of 450 people work for the aquarium.
The aquarium’s operating budget has grown 13.8 percent over the last five years, to $50 million in 2016.
About two-thirds of its visitors came from outside the state. Based on a sample survey of visitors, the study estimates that 88 percent of guests came to Baltimore because of the aquarium, a statistic Driban said amplifies the aquarium’s significance as a revenue generator for local businesses.
The report also analyzed the economic impact of the aquarium’s planned Animal Care and Rescue Center. The development and construction of the $20 million project in Baltimore’s Jonestown neighborhood is expected to support 190 jobs and $11 million in employee compensation.