Officials honored for their efforts to draw visitors BECKONING TOURISTS TO MD.


The Maryland Tourism Council last night honored officials from Baltimore and the state for their contributions to the state's travel industry.

The awards were presented at the 14th annual Governor's Conference on Tourism in Hagerstown. About 200 people from state county tourism offices, hotels, inns and other attractions attended the event, which ends today.

Awarded the council's top three awards were Nicholas Brown, executive director of the National Aquarium in Baltimore (President's Award for Outstanding Service to the Industry); Wendy Kelman, tour development manager for the Maryland Office of Tourism Development (Maryland Travel Person of the Year); and Diane Marie Habeebullah, information specialist with the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association (Hospitality Person of the Year).

During the four-day conference, state tourism officials also unveiled a new advertising campaign, which features blue crabs, skipjacks and slogans playing off the state's compact size and location near Washington, D.C.

The campaign, developed by W. B. Doner & Co. of Baltimore, will make use of Maryland icons, such as blue crabs and skipjacks. The icons will border ads to distinguish Maryland's ads from those of other states.

Among the slogans are: "Why is Maryland so small? Years ago we took out all the boring stuff," and "One of the best things about D.C. is how close it is to Maryland."

The campaign will spotlight different areas of the state, hoping -- to entice visitors who come for the Inner Harbor, for instance, into staying for a day trip to Western Maryland.

"We need to broaden the perception that the only things to see in Maryland are Baltimore and Ocean City," said Bryan Jay Yolles, executive vice president of W. B. Doner & Co.

The ads, expected to appear in regional newspapers and magazines in the spring, also will include a new toll-free information number, 1-800-MD-IS-FUN.

The advertising campaign will be directed at the 36 million people who live within a 200-mile radius of the state -- an area stretching from New York City to Cleveland to North Carolina.

He said research shows that most vacationers in Maryland arrive by car and spend three or four days in the state.

Tourism is a $4.6 billion-a-year industry in Maryland.

George Williams, director of Maryland's Office of Tourism Development, said the new marketing campaign is one the state intends to use over the next five to 10 years. The state has about $280,000 to spend in advertising dollars this fiscal year, he said.

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