The millions of people who visited Baltimore last year generated $5.7 billion in economic impact, according to the latest Visit Baltimore annual report released Tuesday.
The 26.2 million visits, mostly to see family and friends but also for events and conventions, ticked up from 25.9 million visits the year before, the marketing group reported. The increase came from a rise in day trips.
“The results of our yearly visitor research confirm once again that tourism is a major economic engine for the city of Baltimore,” Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of the group, said in a statement.
“The meetings and tourism industry is a major employer for the region, creating or sustaining more than 85,678 jobs, activity generating $1.5 billion in taxes and fees for the state and city,” he said. “Furthermore, convention sales and tourism marketing enhance the perception of Baltimore as a great place to start a career, build a business, attend college or even purchase a home.”
The visitors, largely from neighboring states, spent most of their money on food and beverages, lodging and transportation, the report said.
Visit Baltimore turned to a promotional video called “The City You Can’t Miss,” to help sell the city to outsiders, and officials say they had luck gaining the attention of travel magazines and websites.
Though the city has lost some large conventions due to the size and age of the convention center, the positive publicity may have helped future convention bookings. A total of 373 events are slated through 2030 worth $260 million. There are 48 events scheduled in 2019.
City officials are examining whether and how to update the Baltimore Convention Center.
This year, officials said people came to sample food, taste craft beers and visit cultural amenities and neighborhoods.
Hotel bookings just outpaced the national average, though they were flat from the year before. Baltimore hotel rooms were about 67 percent occupied last year, compared with the U.S. average of almost 66 percent occupied. Rates were slightly less than the national average, an average of $116 a night versus $126.72 a night.
There are 1,066 hotel rooms under construction in the city, the report found.