Tourism promotion agencies in Maryland are trying new strategies to attract visitors to Maryland, a panel of industry leaders said Thursday during the BWI Business Partnership’s March Signature Breakfast at The Hall at Live! Casino & Hotel, in Hanover.

The wide-ranging discussion, called “The State of Tourism,” a $16.4 billion industry in Maryalnd according to, touched on topics such as continued recovery from the pandemic, marketing efforts and workforce issues, was moderated by the Managing Director, Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism and Film Liz Fitzsimmons, who was quick to note that the state’s industry employs 113,000 workers and that it needs many more.

Joining her on the dais were Kristin Pironis, executive director, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County; Trish McClean, chief marketing officer of Visit Baltimore; and Amanda Hof, executive director of Howard County Tourism.

Pironis said that while each member of the panel was sharing information about their own area, she stressed that tourism in Maryland is a group effort. “In our case, competition is smaller towns like Newport (RI) and Charleston (SC), as well as Philadelphia,” she said, while mentioning a recent significant VAAAC spend in the City of Brotherly Love.

From her vantage point in Baltimore City, McClean took Pironis’s observations in another direction, observing that the City and neighboring jurisdictions always hope to “share” visitors, referring to that type of effort as “backyard tourism.”

In Howard County, Hof spoke of heightened efforts to use data to track how many people visit, what they do, how much they spend, etc., as well as the HoCo Gratitude campaign to salute workers.

And speaking of those workers, Fitzsimmons added that difficulty in building a strong workforce, an issue in many industries today, is being approached in a more aggressive measures, such as recently holding job fair in Anne Arundel County.