PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. - Residents of Calvert County have long known that the smallest Maryland county is one of the Chesapeake Bay's jewels, but from recent visitor counts, it seems that the local secret is out.
For the first time in four years (since FY02) the County's fiscal year visitor counts for the period July 1 to June 30 have shown a dramatic increase. FY06 visitor counts are up 37,067, or 12.4 percent over FY05. Previously, decreases were seen in FY03 (-14.3 percent), FY04 (-11.7 percent) and FY05 (-17.7 percent). Visitor counts are tallied and reported from each of the County's major tourist attractions and two visitor centers. Major tourist attractions include such sites as Calvert Marine Museum, Kings Landing Park, Breezy Point Beach, Flag Ponds Nature Park and Annmarie Garden.
Erica Stone, tourism specialist at the Calvert County Department of Economic Development attributes much of the increase to positive changes that have been made in the County's marketing tactics and outreach efforts. "We have made a conscious effort to reach out to a new breed of tourist," she said. "We know there are many local residents who are unaware of all there is to do in their own backyards so we have made a concerted effort to appeal to our own Calvert County citizens. Additionally, we recognize that many people in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and the Baltimore area enjoy day trips to places that are just a gas tank away. Calvert County has a range of activities for visitors - including trails, beaches, shops, museums, restaurants and marinas. It is an attractive place for families, singles and couples to spend the day and we are working diligently to spread the word."
Linda Vassallo, director of the Calvert County Department of Economic Development is pleased with the trends these statistics portend. "Calvert County has great potential as a destination for high-quality, unique tourism activities. These numbers show that the tourists who come here are spending money, visiting our many shops, restaurants and amusement locations and adding to the overall economic vitality and health of Calvert County."