The Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC) will hold its 35th annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit (MTTS) at the newly renovated Turf Valley in Ellicott City on Oct. 28–30. This will be the summit’s third time at Turf Valley, and record-breaking attendance and sponsorship is expected.

Deb Carter, longtime board member of the Maryland Tourism Coalition and owner of Buttonwood Beach Campgrounds, said, “There’s something magical about the Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit. It may be the spirit of hospitality that sets our industry apart. We have a passion for serving others and are dedicated to our communities, where we live, work and play. Turf Valley, located in enchanting Howard County, is the perfect location to celebrate tourism, because after all, tourism is everybody’s business.”

Regina Ford, director of marketing at Turf Valley and a member of the summit’s Hospitality committee, said, “Turf Valley is very excited to showcase our newest renovations and décor to all of the tourism executives from across the state. Our new fireplace and seating area in the hotel lobby will offer a warm welcome for attendees on a cool, crisp autumn day. There is so much to enjoy at Turf Valley, and the summit attendees take full advantage of the championship golf and are already booking appointments to visit the Turf Valley Spa — which has recently received a facelift for the occasion.”

Industry Leaders & Travel Brands

This three-day event attracts 250–300 tourism and hospitality industry leaders from throughout Maryland to learn the latest techniques in marketing, sales, public relations, social media and grassroots advocacy, and to hear about the economic outlook for the industry. The summit is the year’s best opportunity to meet and to share with industry peers during the general sessions, award luncheons, networking breaks, receptions, mobile workshops and MTC’s annual awards gala celebrating the achievements of tourism professionals.

Formally, guests of the summit have the opportunity to be recognized in front of their peers and receive professional and marketing awards for their organizations’ successes or their personal achievements. Informally, it also has raffle prize opportunities for participants to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences, VIP tickets, posh getaways, golf outings and foodie feasts.

In addition to leaders in Maryland’s tourism industry gathering in Howard County, the industry’s most recognized travel brands will be attending, from Miles, Meredith to Madden.

“We will be hosting 27-plus national and local sponsors coming in from all over the country who are so excited to be in Howard County once again,” said Susan Seifert, of Costal Living/Southern Living and Preservation magazine, chair of the summit’s Sponsorship Committee. “It’s such a great opportunity to showcase all Howard County has to offer, from dining, shopping, exploring and much, much more.”

Summit Scenario

The summit will kick off on Wednesday, Oct. 28, with economic prognosticator Aniban Basu detailing his predictions for the travel industry. Attendees will then participate in the interactive Team Building Through Song — Harness Your Creative Power general session by Billy Kirsch that will have attendees crafting a Maryland jingle together.

The opening reception will be sponsored by HCTP with Howard County’s best farm-to-table, dock-to-dish and garden-to-glass offerings.

“At the Robinson Nature Center, we’re eager to introduce tourism professionals from all over Maryland to our ‘neck of the woods’ as we kick off the opening reception for the summit,” said Pam Reese, community liaison of the James and Anne Robinson Nature Center and chair of the summit’s Decorations Committee. “We’re delighted to have an opportunity to showcase our LEED Platinum facility, especially to Green Tourism Partners attending, [and] to have guests experience for the first time our Full Dome NatureSphere Planetarium.”

On Thursday, Oct. 29, summit attendees will be treated to a keynote presentation by Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s “Digital Nomad,” who spent five years reporting from around the world in real time, online. To date, he has completed 30 assignments for the National Geographic Society that have spanned all seven continents and five oceans.

Evans has broadcast live from kayak, camel-back and helicopter, and from inside King Tut’s tomb. He was the first person ever to blog from the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and gained a worldwide following when he made his epic overland journey from National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., all the way to Antarctica using public transportation — a 12,000-mile journey.

In addition to authoring award-winning travel books, Evans recently was awarded the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Exploration & Storytelling.

Additional general sessions include The State of the State by the Maryland Office of Tourism, an interactive Maryland Tourism Coalition town hall with roundtable discussions and formal debates about AirBnB, Uber, Online Travel Companies and the impact of Millennials on the industry. A Crisis Communications panel question and answer session also is under development.

The Closer

On Friday, Oct. 30, the closing General Session presentation by Barbra Glanz will discuss, “Exhausted, Confused and Ticked Off — Hope for a New Beginning When Change Has Done You In!” This interactive session will help leaders guide employees to better understand the change process as well as their feelings in the midst of change. It will include a “Control Inventory” for leaders to use as a strategic, concrete tool to manage change and to help employees gain more control and perform at a higher level in a dynamic work environment.

To register for the Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit, visit To book a room at Turf Valley Resort, visit

Rachelina Bonacci, CEO of Howard County Tourism & Promotion (HCTP), is co-chair of the summit, and can be reached at 410-313-1439. (Marian Hrab, director of sales & marketing at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, is the other co-chair.) Maryland Tourism Coalition ( is the only statewide membership association representing all segments of the tourism and travel industry.