The Year that Wasn’t: TEAM Maryland partners discuss 2020 and their ‘Hope’ for 2021

“I am most looking forward to having the Hope of sports and group events returning in 2021”

Mayor’s Cup Pickleball Tournament Participants, Annapolis
(Photo: Visit Annapolis Instagram)

One year ago this week, representatives from tourism organizations across the state gathered in the mountains of Western Maryland, to celebrate the 39th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit at Rocky Gap Resort in Allegany County. It was a particularly exciting event for the Maryland Sports Commission, as our Executive Director Terry Hasseltine was honored with the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations Partner of the Year Award. It was a rare opportunity to catch up with some of our TEAM Maryland partners all in one place, while also networking with individuals outside of the sport tourism industry – whose organizations can serve as incredible partners as we promote communities and towns to Events Rights Holders and National Governing Bodies.

Looking back on the event, there is one particular moment which now stands in stark contrast to those three days of festive celebration. Attendees were able to sit in on a presentation by esteemed economist, Anirban Basu, Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group and host of “The Morning Economic Report” on WYPR radio in Baltimore. Basu warned that the economy – with its exorbitant and sustained levels of growth in the years following the Great Recession, combined with low unemployment rates nationally – was bound to come to a halt. Going on past indicators, some sort of slowdown was inevitable, as economic trends and history showed that such rapid growth was bound to come to an end. As Basu asserted, it was just a matter of what would be the cause of that slow down, when it would happen, and how much of an impact it would have on the overall economy.

Anirban Basu
(Photo: Maryland Tourism Council Facebook)

Looking back on such a dire prediction – which might have felt a little out of place for the setting – now feels like an ominous warning, although no one – including Basu himself – could have predicted what would happen in the months that followed.

Tourism, sport tourism specifically, has always managed to find a way to remain afloat during economic uncertainty and fluctuating markets. “Throughout the Great Recession of the early 2010s, sport tourism was one of the few industries that remained strong, and even saw tremendous growth in some markets,” said Terry Hasseltine of Maryland Sports. “Generally, when times are tough, parents want to give their children a sense of normalcy and that can be done through sports. And I think that’s what made this whole scenario so complex – not just the disruption of normalcy and the inconveniences that have come with it, but the catastrophic loss of so many loved ones, and the impact that has had on families and communities in our state, in our country, and across the globe,” Hasseltine added.

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