The world of destination tourism increasingly is a competitive place, and developing distinctive ways of setting a region above its competitors is no easy task. Last week, however, a local collective of public and private entities was recognized for its innovation at the 35th Annual Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit.
State Ventures, a national tourism promotion and publishing company, nominated the Ocean City Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Association, Worcester County Tourism, the Town of Ocean City Special Events Department, the Brewers Association of Maryland and ShoreCraftBeer.com for the Visionary Impact Award.
The Visionary Impact Award recognizes dedication and innovation in developing long-term, sustainable tourism approaches that can help transform a region. Working together under the leadership of ShoreCraftBeer.com, these local groups helped develop and promote the Shore Craft Beer concept, which aimed at promoting the region’s world class beer and world class beauty.
With support from the State Ventures ShoreCraftBeer.com website, local hotels restaurants and breweries, the coalition promoted the region in a way not unlike California once positioned itself as a wine destination.
Using social media, printed products and education campaigns focusing on local servers and restaurateurs, the Shore Craft Beer movement helped highlight the region’s beer tourism offerings. Throughout the spring, summer and early fall the promotional partners succeeded in initiating the Shore’s transformation into the newest and hottest craft beer destination in the country.
The Maryland Tourism Coalition recognized this effort as not only potentially transformative, but also as a novel team approach to augmenting an underappreciated segment of the tourism industry, especially during the shoulder and off-season months. Particularly interesting was the addition of craft beer as a draw for out-of-town travelers, rather than an ancillary attraction. Three out of every four visitors to the recent Shore Craft Beer Fest were from out of town.
“This is a great cooperative effort to increase tourism on the strength of the area’s world class breweries,” said State Ventures CEO Ann McGinnis Hillyer. “With such a great group to work with and such a beautiful region to promote, it won’t be long before we’re among the top ten craft beer destinations in the country.”