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Anne Arundel County led state in tourism revenue for 2009

Anne Arundel County led Maryland in travel tourism revenue for 2009, according to a report commissioned by the state.

The county, which boasts Annapolis, the State House and the Naval Academy as some of its top destinations, brought in $2.2 billion in revenues that year, from 6.4 million tourists.

The county has headed the list since Global Insight, the research firm used by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, began tracking the data in 2007.

Some of the other report’s findings include the $2.2 billion spent by visitors in Anne Arundel accounted for 16.1 percent of Maryland’s total visitor expenditures in 2009, and the majority was spent on transportation.

The county is home to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the main source of the transportation-related expenses. The figures only count travelers who land at BWI and their expenses, including lodging at nearby hotels and taxi costs.

“We don’t have a beach, so the airport is our beach,” said Connie Del Signore, CEO of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau.

Those travel expenditures created $636.4 million in payroll income for tourism jobs, the report said.

Last year also brought in good news for the county’s hotels, which house 11,000 hotel rooms, Del Signore said.

Hotel occupancy rates increased by 7 percent over 2009 rates to 70 percent, she said. Revenue per available room, a key metric in the hospitality industry, also increased for the county’s hotels by 3.5 percent last year.

“Demand is finally exceeding supply,” Del Signore said. “I’m very optimistic that 2011 will be continuing that trend of moving upward.”

Calls to the Maryland Office of Tourism Development were not returned.