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Md. Tourism Suffers After Terrorist Attacks

By Alan Brody
Capital News Service
Friday, Sept. 20, 2001

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland's tourism and entertainment industries, both major sources of state revenue, are being hit hard by the Sept. 11 terrorist bombings at New York's World Trade Center and the nearby Pentagon. 

Tourists normally spend $7.7 billion a year in Maryland, mostly in Baltimore's Inner Harbor entertainment district, said Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development officials. 

"The harbor was pretty much shut down"  Sept. 11, said Robin Givens, spokeswoman for the USS Constellation, a historic Civil War battleship museum at Inner Harbor. Attendance at that museum attendance last week - at about 1,000 - was half the norm for this time of year. But it improved over the weekend, said Givens. "I think people were just trying to get out and about, and get their minds off things," said Givens.

Six Baltimore Orioles games at Camden Yards were postponed, as was the Sept. 17 Monday Night Football contest between the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings at PSINet Stadium. No ticket revenue will be lost because the games have been rescheduled, but hotels and restaurants that are normally busy were hurt, city officials said. 

Some hotels reported an 80 percent cancellation rate the weekend following the attacks, said Nancy Hinds, communications director for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. Next to the airline industry, hotels have felt the most negative economic impact since the attack, said Pradeep Ganguly, chief economist for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. 

That negative impact is short term, he said, and is expected to reverse in the coming months. "The economy will adjust itself by reallocating resources and spending," said Ganguly. "Some sectors will lose jobs, but others will gain jobs. Consumers still have the spending power." 

The Baltimore Convention Center had to shorten, cancel or postpone several events in the center's busiest quarter because of the terrorist bombings, including the Pump Users Expo, of engineers, which was expected to bring in 1,600 participants and $3.9 million to the city. Attendance at upcoming conventions is expected to be halved, said Jennifer Douglas, spokeswoman for the convention center. 

Two of Baltimore's biggest tourist attractions, the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center, reported normal traffic since the attacks, aside from Sept. 11's early closing for security measures. 

The Top of the World Observation Level, another popular tourist attraction on the 27th floor of Baltimore's World Trade Center, remains closed over security issues, even though the rest of the building reopened Friday. 

The Atlantic Coast Conference postponed athletic events from Sept. 11 to 15, including the University of Maryland's football game with West Virginia University, rescheduled for Sept. 29. Security measures have been increased for the team and fans, but no revenue loss is anticipated. 

The U.S. Naval Academy's football game in Evanston, Ill., against Northwestern University was cancelled and could not be rescheduled. Athletic officials are scrambling to find a replacement opponent to offset some of the lost revenue.

Security at many typical tourist spots are being reviewed and heightened. "Some hotels are not allowing cars to park in front," said Hinds. "Bellmen will not take bags as often, and when someone is sitting in a lobby for too long, they might be approached by security. People are a lot more alert in general." 

The U.S. Sailboat show, scheduled for early October in Annapolis, will go on as planned, with a crowd of nearly 100,000 expected over the two-week event.

Other Maryland attractions have done well since the incidents, including the Deale Bluegrass Festival and the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which experienced record attendance over the past weekend, according to the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau. 

Officials from Blockbuster Video said overall store traffic has increased since the attacks, especially from seekers of "feel-good" movies. "I think what we have seen is people who stayed home with family, and when they needed a break from the nonstop news coverage, video rentals was one way to do that," said Randy Hargrove, spokesman for Blockbuster. 

Hargrove noted the company has not pulled hijacking or terrorist-related movies, like "Air Force One" or "The Siege" off the shelves, leaving the decision to rent those movies to the customers.

Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism

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