Tourism report indicates OC visitor count grew for 2015State data shows city had nearly 9 percent increase in guests versus prior year
(Jan. 13, 2016) In terms of tourism, 2015 was a good year for Ocean City, posting as it did a 9 percent increase over the year before, Ocean City Tourism and Marketing Director Donna Abbott told Ocean City Tourism Commission members on Monday.
“The Maryland Tourism Board did a study, they do it every year, to see the economic impact of tourism in Maryland.”
The state report released last week shows tourism spending generated nearly $17 billion during calendar year 2015, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2014. Also, approximately 40.5 million people visited the state in 2015, a roughly six percent increase over the previous year.
In Ocean City, the report estimated tourism spending at roughly $1.46 billion in 2015, increasing by 3.1 percent over the 2014, while visitor numbers hit approximately 1.95 million, up 8.8 percent from the roughly 1.79 million visitors in 2014.
Abbott said the numbers are estimates provided by Philadelphia-based Tourism Economics, whose methodology she has investigated.
“They have a formula that they use that’s based on visitor spending,” she said. “They have to assume a certain amount of information. It’s apples to apples from year to year.”
Although a more exacting means to count heads would be Abbott’s preference, other tourism directors maintain that it’s better to follow the money.
“It really should be on visitor spending,” she said. “Not how many visitors you have, but are they spending money to boost your economy.”
Breaking down the approximately $1.46 billion of tourist dollars, the largest percentage, more than $290 million, was spent on food and beverages. Lodging ranked a close second at more than $284 million.
Abbott told the commission that Tourism Economics is the “gold standard” when it comes to assessing tourism’s impact.
“We’re getting to ready to renew the contact with Tourism Economics,” she said. “We’re lucky to have them. They’ve offered a very competitive rate.”