Youth and Amateur Sports takes Center Stage at Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit

40th Edition of Conference features All-Star Sport Tourism Panel

From left to right: Kevin Smith, Matt Libber, Terry Hasseltine, Neelay Bhatt, Al Kidd, Kris Smith at the 2021 Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit at Maryland Live! Event Center at Arundel Mills

(HANOVER, Maryland) — The 40th anniversary of the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit was “One for the books!” declared Ruth Toomey, Executive Director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition. The MTC operates the perennial celebration of hospitality and tourism in the state. Representatives and sponsors from across Maryland gathered in Hanover inside the state-of-the-art Event Center at Maryland Live! Casino for a three-day summit, November 8th through 10th, to celebrate Destination Marketing Organizations, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, hotel operators, restaurateurs, and other organizations that work closely with, or work to enhance, the tourism industry across Maryland. The summit included an opening ceremony at Laurel Race Park and was hosted by TEAM Maryland partner Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County.

“It’s always great meeting new people and getting to have one-on-one time with the speakers,” said Toomey, who planned the event, and echoed nearly all of the attendees – many of whom hadn’t seen one another in-person since the 2019 MTTS at Rocky Gap Resort in Allegany County. “While tourism numbers are up, we are not (fully) recovered. We will have a long road ahead of us,” said Toomey, who took home the “2021 Tourism Person of the Year” honor during the event’s closing ceremonies.

Ruth Toomey (second from right) named 2021 “Tourism Person of the Year”

The Maryland Sports Commission, which has a longstanding partnership with the MTC – and is a multi-year sponsor of the summit – hosted this year’s main panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon. The topic focused on youth and amatuer sport tourism and the positive impact this particular sector of the industry has on local communities and the state as a whole.

Youth and amateur sports continue to prove itself as a near ‘recession-proof’ section of the tourism market,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission. Hasseltine, who admits having serious concerns about the impact that COVID closures and cancellations would have on the industry beginning in early 2020, said that he saw community members working with local governments and event organizers to find ways to make sports happen during the pandemic, “Obviously we were impacted like every other sector of the tourism and hospitality industry. But one of the first things we saw come back online was amateur and professional sports. We saw more people going outside and participating in active, outdoor sports and Event Rights Holders took notice of this and began looking for ways to return to competition spaces in a safe and socially responsible manner.”

Continue reading