Cumberland Times-News

January 12, 2014

Allegany County said to lead state in percentage of tourism growth

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Tourism in the county is on a roll, according to a briefing provided to Allegany County commissioners Thursday by Barbara G. Buehl, the executive director of Allegany County Tourism.

“Allegany County led the state in percentage of growth in tourism last year,” said Buehl. That improvement will mean a significant increase in matching tourism funds from the state, Buehl told commissioners. Buehl said the overall tourism results are the best since 2007, before the long recession from which the nation continues to recover.

Buehl said the improvements are attributable to several factors, including the addition of the casino at Rocky Gap, growth in musical entertainment possibilities, completion of the Great Allegany Passage Trail to Pittsburgh and new advertising strategies.

The new advertising strategies include search engine marketing and increased use of social media, such as Facebook, Buehl said. “Friends following the Mountain Maryland Facebook page increased from 5,300 to 9,700 as a result of ticket contests for DelFest and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Santa Trains,” Buehl said.

The search engine marketing essentially follows up on inquiries by sending advertisements to the people who made the initial inquiry.

“Allegany County continues to increase its popularity as Maryland’s mountain destination with over 65 percent of our inquiries coming from affluent suburban communities in central and metro regions,” Buehl said.

More than 32,000 people used the tourism center in 2013, compared to 27,300 in 2012, Buehl said. That included visitors from all 50 states and 53 foreign countries, Buehl said.

Among the new events planned for 2014 is a motorcycle rally that has about 300 participants who have already booked hotel rooms, Buehl said.

The discussion took place at Thursday’s regular Allegany County Commission business meeting at the county office complex on Kelly Road.

Also on Thursday, commissioners also approved a lease agreement with Alliant Tech System (ATK) for Building 19 in the Riverside Industrial Park. The structure was previously leased to a contractor working for ATK, but will now be leased directly by the company for $12,898 per month.

The lease runs for two years. The building has been used to for supply chain services for ATK. When the company needs supplies, they are ordered and kept at the site until needed by ATK at their Rocket Center, W.Va., facility.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.