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A ‘banner year’ for Baltimore

Visit Baltimore, the city’s official tourism agency, predicted last year that fiscal 2014 would be a “banner year” for tourism. It appears they were right.

The city hosted 23.9 million visitors in calendar year 2013, who generated a record $5.15 billion in direct spending — a year-over-year increase of 2.2 percent, according to data released Tuesday at Visit Baltimore’s 2014 annual meeting.

Those dollars contributed to $629 million in state and local taxes and helped support a tourism workforce of 80,400 people, the agency said.

Much of Visit Baltimore’s activities over the past couple of years, including this year, have focused on the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 as the birthplace of the national anthem (hence the “banner” year pun) on its 200th anniversary.

There’s still more to come – particularly the grand finale: the Star-Spangled Spectacular from Sept. 10-16.

Visit Baltimore CEO Tom Noonan also reviewed fiscal 2014 stats for the Baltimore Convention Center. This year, 370 conventions, meetings and trade shows were booked (some for as far out as 2021). Those events will generate 461,247 hotel room nights with an expected economic impact of more than $241 million.

The results mark six consecutive years of record-setting sales for the Convention Center, Noonan said.

(For more on Baltimore’s hotel business, check out TDR real estate reporter Adam Bednar’s recent take on why the industry is having a renaissance of sorts. And stay tuned later today for our report on Marriott International’s second quarter earnings release.)

Visit Baltimore also highlighted a variety of marketing initiatives, including the launch of “Absolutely Febulous,” a 10-day promotion that combined the offers of Museum Week, Restaurant Week and Hotel Week to boost sales in the cold winter month.

Read about more of Baltimore’s recent and future tourism initiatives here.