Visitor spending in Frederick County increased 4 percent in 2018, rising to $428.3 million annually.
This puts daily spending by visitors in the county at $1.17 million, according to The Economic Impact of Tourism in Maryland, a study published annually by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company.
Total visitor spending has increased by 35 percent since 2010. This upward trend can be attributed to many factors, including marketing and a growing downtown, said Melissa Muntz, marketing and communications manager of Visit Frederick.
Muntz said Frederick County’s historic sites and attractions — such as Monocacy National Battlefield and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine — are its biggest draws. However, she has seen a growing trend away from short day trips and toward overnight stays in recent years.
“But now that we have things like wineries, breweries, distilleries, great restaurants, a thriving downtown, popular main streets, we’re seeing that those same visitors who are coming for history also want to do those things,” Muntz said. “So they’re staying longer and experiencing more of Frederick instead of just coming, seeing the battlefield, and leaving.”
In 2018, 1.12 million visitors took day trips to Frederick County while 941,500 took overnight trips. At 2.06 million visitors, 2018 saw a 4 percent increase in visitors from 2017.
While overnight visitors increased by about 35,000 from 2017, they still accounted for a little less than half of all visits in 2018.
Lodging is the one segment of visitor spending that has remained relatively stagnant year-over-year. Visitors spent $60.7 million in lodging in 2018 while they spent $60.8 million in 2017. Muntz said this could primarily be due to the number of federal government shutdown days in the last two years.
“Being so close to Washington, D.C., we’re very affected by the federal government being open,” Muntz said. “Fort Detrick, things like that, are a big deal.”
The effect of services such as Airbnb on lodging spending aren’t yet clear, she said.
Spending on food and beverages, retail, recreation, transport and second homes all rose in the last year. Food and beverages make up the largest portion of visitor spending at 28.3 percent. Visitors spent $121.1 million on food and drink in 2018.
In addition to Frederick County itself changing over the last decade, Visit Frederick has worked to change their marketing strategies to draw more people to the county.
In the last couple of years, Visit Frederick launched a mobile-friendly website, which led to its traffic “skyrocketing.” The Visitors Center on East Street is also a newer addition to town. It opened at its current location in 2011.
“Adding that Visitors Center certainly opened us up to including more and more bus groups and large parties, giving them a place to come and start their journey,” Muntz said. “So that’s very appealing to some of those groups coming from further away.”