Baltimore tourism a big part of Schaefer legacy

April 18 was a sad day for Baltimore and for Maryland as we marked the passing of William Donald Schaefer. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to his family and friends and publicly express our eternal gratitude for the leadership and vision that he brought to tourism in Baltimore.

Each and every person employed in the Baltimore tourism industry has Mr. Schaefer to thank for the opportunities presented to them. We are all employed today due to his vision. Where others saw dilapidated warehouses, he saw possibility, and his tenacious pursuit of that vision turned Baltimore into one of the top tourism cities in the country. Mr. Schaefer made the Baltimore Convention Center, the Aquarium, Harborplace, Camden Yards, downtown hotels and restaurants a reality. He built our convention and tourism industry. He was the ultimate promoter of Baltimore and his outstanding public service provided an example to all of us.

In 2007, we were honored to present the William Donald Schaefer Baltimore Tourism Visionary Award to Mr. Schaefer for his amazing leadership and get-it-done spirit. We've continued to honor extraordinary leaders within the tourism industry each year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future so that his legacy may live on.

Governor Schaefer, we thank you for all you have done to drive development of the Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Convention Center and all the other tourism projects that came after. Without you there would be no thriving tourism business in Baltimore.

Ed Hale and Tom Noonan, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, chairman of the Baltimore Convention and Tourism Board and president and CEO of Visit Baltimore.