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Allegany County Tourism Wins Awards at Maryland Travel and Tourism Summit
County takes home multiple awards for work on the 50th anniversary of the C&O Canal.
November 12, 2021 - CUMBERLAND, MD – Allegany County Tourism took home two statewide awards, the Leveraging Partnership Award and Cooperative Partnership Award, during the 40th Annual Maryland Travel and Tourism Summit in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Both awards were presented to Allegany, Washington, Frederick, and Montgomery counties for their regional work on the C&O Canal Experience and their success in identifying and packaging complementary assets the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal has as a destination region in order to drive revenue with overnight stays.
“The Maryland Tourism Awards showcase the influential people, programs and organizations that have made an economic impact on our state by encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more here,” said Liz Fitzsimmons, Managing Director of Maryland Department of Commerce’s Division of Tourism and Film.
The Leveraging Partnership Award, which was given by the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism Development (OTD) and the Maryland Tourism Development Board (MTDB), recognizes excellence and major contributions to those who most successfully identify and package complementary assets to drive revenue by generating overnight stays.
The Cooperative Partnership award, presented by the Maryland Tourism Coalition, honors teamwork and partnerships by multiple destinations, businesses or organizations that come together to form a marketing alliance.
“We began planning for the launch of this project two years ago,” said Allegany County Director of Tourism, Ashli Workman. “To watch this strategy come to life this year and to be recognized at the state level beside our tourism counterparts in Washington, Frederick, and Montgomery counties is a true honor.”
While the C&O Canal Experience celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the canal joining the NPS, the canal itself dates back to 1828, when ground was broken on what was then an engineering marvel that would transport goods from the Ohio River Valley to eastern markets. It paralleled the Potomac River, which was not navigable by ship, and saw mules pulling canal boats both east and west between Georgetown and Cumberland, where the canal terminated. Due to competition from railroads and a series of floods, the canal closed to boat traffic in 1924 and sat relatively abandoned until the 1950s when a group of interested citizens, including Justice Douglas, brought attention to the canal’s plight. It was named a National Monument in 1961 before becoming a National Historical Park in 1971.
Today, the park welcomes approximately 5 million visitors each year and is a major economic driver for the area. In 2019, park visitors spent an estimated $98.4 million in local gateway regions, which supported 1,330 jobs. The park draws its visitors from its surrounding communities and from around the world to come to ride the 184.5-mile towpath and the adjoining Great Allegheny Passage (GAP Trail), which stretches from Cumberland, MD, to Pittsburgh, PA. The 332-mile trek from the Steel City to the nation’s capital is a bucket list item for many long-distance hikers and bikers. The park also preserves over 1,000 historic structures and conserves habitat for 113 rare and threatened plants and animals while offering interpretive tours, hiking trails, overnight lockhouse accommodations, and a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities.
The C&O Canal Experience provides a regional unified marketing strategy, branding, and communications plan that connects partners and assets found across the C&O Canal region. This marketing partnership resulted in new tourism experiences such as the C&O Canal Libations Trail, more than 30 media articles, several hosted media visits, including a virtual group media FAM, and an increase in visitation moving the C&O Canal National Historical Park to the 8th most visited national park in the USA during 2020 (up from #12).
For more information on the C&O Canal Experience, please visit www.mdmountainside.com/the-canal.