Garrett had only growth in Maryland tourism during pandemic

The Garrett County Republican

McHENRY — While Garrett County has experienced a boom in tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, the rest of Maryland is struggling to recover.

While the state’s tourism industry as a whole experienced a 64% decline during the pandemic, Garrett County actually posted a 36% increase from pre-pandemic levels, according to Liz Fitzsimmons, managing director of the Office of Tourism for the Department of Commerce.

“Garrett County was the anomaly,” Fitzsimmons said. “The only region, the only county that was able to do this.”

In 27 years with the Office of Tourism, Fitzsimmons said the Office of Tourism never had to go before any group and say that there were decreases. That changed in 2020, when the industry was dealt a severe blow.

Sales figures for overnight stays in hotels, motels and rental units are key indicators of the state of tourism, she said, as those visitors spend money in other areas, such as food, entertainment, recreational activities and retail items.

For the category of hotels, motels, apartments and cottages, sales figures for the 2021 fiscal year totaled $56.05 million — a 56% drop from pre-pandemic 2019’s $128.6 million. For hotels and motels selling food, the results were even worse: from $35.4 million in 2019 to $10.7 million in 2021. That constitutes a 69.7% drop.

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual tourism update Tuesday morning at its Business Before Hours meeting, hearing from state officials just how hard the pandemic hit Maryland recreation.

“I last attended this meeting two years ago,” said Tom Riford, assistant secretary of the Department of Commerce’s Division of Tourism, Film & the Arts. “What a different world it was two years ago to today. Just totally, totally different.”

Riford said tourism is the fourth-largest industry in the state, employing people, providing tax revenue and helping the quality of life.

“Maryland’s tourism industry was especially hard-hit in March of 2020. And the last 20 months has seen the tourism industry working together to move forward to get to the other side,” he said. “I’m very proud of what was accomplished in this county in 2020, and in 2021. You led the state.”

The Wisp Resort’s ski school in 2021 had its best year since it opened in 1955, he said.

In continuing with the Autumn Glory Festival through the pandemic, Garrett County “has shown many other jurisdictions that it can move forward, and move toward a positive tomorrow,” Riford said.

Garrett County’s accommodation sales would have been even higher, but Gov. Larry Hogan had ordered the closing of hotels and motels at the start of the outbreak. When they were allowed to reopen, rooms and houses throughout the Deep Creek Lake area were rented almost immediately. Many were people who were seeking to leave areas of Maryland and Virginia that were experiencing early rises in COVID-19 cases.

That has spilled over into the Garrett County real estate market, where home sales have been strong for months, with houses now averaging $431,461.

However, those same eager visitors now have other options, Fitzsimmons said, with borders reopening and international travel now possible.

Six of the 10 richest counties in the United States are located in Northern Virginia, she said, and those are the customers that Garrett County needs to continue to attract — even as options such as Europe are now available again.

“They are the people who helped drive these increases,” Fitzsimmons said, encouraging business owners to reach out and continue to develop the relationships they’ve developed with visitors during the pandemic.

Garrett County tourism growth exceeds state average

The Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County have seen record increases in tourism during fiscal 2019, which ended June 30, with an 8.7% increase in county accommodations sales, 8.8% in admissions and amusement collections, 14.09% in visitors to the chamber of commerce website and 3.2% in guests to the Visitors Center in McHenry.

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce attributes the continued growth in tourism to its strategic and effective marketing efforts.

According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, Garrett County’s recent increases even outpaced Maryland’s tourism growth. For FY 2019, Maryland grew sales tax revenues specific to tourism 4.0%, while Garrett County’s tourism sales tax revenues grew 4.4% during the same time period.

Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 5.1% and Maryland grew .8%. Due to county lodging growth over the previous three years, the chamber secured an 8.9% increase in state tourism marketing match grant funds for fiscal 2020.

“We have capitalized on the strong economy by being strategic and innovative with our marketing,” said Nicole Christian, chamber president and CEO.

Tourism-related revenue continues to grow in Maryland

From The Garrett County Republican

McHENRY — Maryland tourism was the topic of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Before Hours last Tuesday morning at Wisp Resort. About 50 local officials and business owners attended the networking event.

“This was the fourth year of revenue growth in the state of Maryland,” reported guest speaker Liz Fitzsimmons, managing director of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts for the Maryland Department of Commerce. “So we want to keep that trajectory going.”

Her division’s mission, she said, is to grow revenue for the state to benefit its citizens.

For the full article click here.

118 Sears Lane Price Improvement

Price improvement! PRIVATE setting near the southern part of the lake, just off of Sky Valley Rd. Well maintained home with hardwood floors, spacious kitchen and plenty of room for entertaining! Large master suite, huge rec room and lots of storage options. Ample parking, shady lot & yard area. Just a few miles to Deep Creek Lake State Park and shopping, dining, entertainment!

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Just Listed! 162 Highline Drive!

“Irvana”, a 6BR 5.5BA vacation rental in Highline. Over $60k in yearly rental income! Enjoy HUGE lake and mountain views stretching even beyond DCL State Park! Home is well equipped with 4 master suites, 3 fireplaces, a screened in porch and a loft. Outside, enjoy low maintenance yard space and a hot tub overlloking the lake. Ski-in, ski-out — Wisp ski slopes are a few hundred feet away!

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62nd-annual Garrett County Agriculture Fair kicks off

The 62nd annual Garrett County Agriculture Fair kicks off with events running for an entire week.

The event will include many competitions, ranging from the judging of farm animals to canned goods, photography and 4-H and school projects.

All exhibit barns will be open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, the carnvial rides will be open from 1-11 p.m. and various contests/competitions will be held throughout the day. Tuesday will be Senior Citizens Day, with free admission granted for those ages 60 and older. Seniors may ride midway attractions free from 1-5 p.m. The day’s schedule will also include a pet show, a 4-H robotics challenge, and a Barrell Ba$h.

for the rest of the weeks schedule and info click here

Price Change for 2095 Rock Lodge Road!

4BR 2.5BA split-lakefront home on a whopping 3.25 acres! Deep-water Type A dock in coveted Cherry Creek Cove. Contemporary home offers a cozy, lodge feel with double-sided fireplace, a roomy kitchen, exposed beams, Anderson windows, 2nd living area and a sun-drenched deck. Lakeside deck area to enjoy shade by the lake! Paved driveway and improved basement has ample storage and a workshop area!

for more information click here.

Celtic Festival to celebrate 30 Years in Garrett County

FRIENDSVILLE — On the green riverside of Friendsville Community Park, the Garrett County Celtic Festival will once again take place, celebrating for the 30th year the history and traditions of Scots, Irish and Welsh ancestry of the mountaintop.

The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 2.

For more Information click here.

Photo by Elizabeth Williams

New Listing 111 Cherry Heights Ln.

Well-maintained 5BR Tennessee log home with multiple views of Deep Creek Lake! Custom home offers a spacious kitchen with ample counter space, several open living areas, exposed beams, large bedrooms and attached garage stall for storage of tools, toys, gear. Impressive exterior decking and covered porch area. 5 minutes to Wisp, dock rentals & other popular lake activities.. Furnishings included!

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Deep Creek Lake Vacation Rental Firm Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales, a leading vacation rental and sales firm located in McHenry, Maryland, is celebrating their tenth anniversary this month. There have been many changes in the past decade, but the company’s commitment to their guests, home owners and the community remains steadfast.

Jodi Taylor Refosco, her husband, Joe Refosco, and her brother, Chad Taylor, started the vacation rental management company in April of 2008. Each had many years of experience in the vacation rental and hospitality industries. Chad and Jodi were continuing a tradition that was started by their parents who previously owned a vacation rental firm. With only one home and no employees, Jodi, Joe and Chad did everything themselves. From lawn care and maintenance to reservations and housekeeping, the trio built the company from the ground up.

For more on their story click here.

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