Amanda Hof, executive director of Howard County Tourism, reflects on tourism’s continued rebound, the county’s best-kept secret, and what she’s looking forward to this fall.
What events are you most looking forward to for the fall season?
There’s so much happening in the fall! Merriweather Post Pavillion has a stellar fall lineup, including a special Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert featuring the soundtrack of “Rocky” with the iconic film on a larger-than-life screen.
Have there been any significant changes in tourism numbers over the past year?
This year we benchmarked 2019 in regard to hotel tax collection by 4% and are up over last fiscal year by 25%. This is a great sign. With strong existing attractions and events and many new ones coming, plus the rebound of business travel, we expect these numbers to grow.
Do you think the tourism sector is finally recovering from COVID?
Yes. 2023 is the year to exceed 2019 tourism demand. Maryland Tourism Development Board’s Tourism Monitor tool shows a 139.8% increase in tourism tax collection.
What’s the most popular local activity or destination for visitors versus local folks?
Our County Parks and Patapsco Valley State Park are by far the most popular places for residents to visit.
What do you regard as the “best kept secret” in terms of tourist attractions in Howard County?
Affordability. We are conveniently nestled in between Baltimore and the Nation’s capital without the hustle and bustle and inflated expenses of the big city – go to the city for the day or evening and stay with us for a fraction of the price. Plus, there are hundreds of free and almost-free activities to do in Howard County.
As kids go back to school, does this put a dent in tourism, or do field trips help fill in those spaces?
It really depends on the activity. Restaurants may see a lull in family dining but an uptick in corporate and ‘game day’ activity. The same is true for hotels with corporate business. Fall also brings more festivals and youth tournaments that help local businesses in the shoulder season.
What keeps you rejuvenated as you continually try to share the gifts of Howard County with everyone?
I wake up every day knowing that our tourism businesses and stakeholders are depending on us to raise awareness of Howard County as a destination and generate tourism spending to help keep their bottom lines healthy.
What are some ways businesses can help boost tourism in Howard County?
Follow us @VisitHoCoMD, and be sure to tag us in your posts and share what we post!
About Visit Howard County
Founded in 1981, the Howard County Tourism Council, Inc. trades as Visit Howard County.
Visit Howard County is recognized by Howard County Government and the Maryland Office of Tourism Development as the official Destination Marketing Organization for Howard County. Visit Howard County is the official organization to market and develop the county as a premier leisure and business travel destination and serves Howard County’s tourism industry businesses and organizations through marketing that showcases the entire county while being a credible resource and advocate.
Why Join Visit Howard County
For as little as $50 a year, businesses can become members of Visit Howard County, a nonprofit that markets the efforts of its members and helps visitors and residents alike enjoy what the community has to offer. As the official marketing organization for Howard County, we value the opportunity to support our members through aggressive marketing campaigns. Additionally, members’ listings, information, and events on Visit Howard County’s website are seen by more than 400,000 unique visitors each year. Visit Howard County bridges the hospitality and business communities together while consistently sharing important information that impacts everyone in Howard County.
How do businesses join? Visit https://www.visithowardcounty.com/about/tourism-council/membership/
“Our business has been a member of Visit Howard County since the first year we opened. What I love about being part of Visit Howard County is the direct exposure to visitors to our county, the clarity of the website, the responsiveness of the staff at Howard County Tourism and the cost of membership is affordable for a small business like ours. Whenever I have a special event, which is several times a year, I send the information to Eric and within a very short period of time, the event is posted on the Visit Howard County website. We have had the opportunity to partner on events as well, which is an added benefit!”
Lori Caprara – Partner, Decadent Coffee & Desert Bar
“The team at Visit Howard County is one of a kind with a true collaborative spirit. They not only promote open dialogue through member sales and board meetings but follow up with prompt action on even the smallest bit of feedback provided. The management team here at the DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia has never doubted the commitment to not just the success of the county as a whole but that of our hotel and its team members as well.”
Lisa Zinnamon – Director of Sales, DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia