Harford County would benefit from a convention center and a , among other items, according to a marketing study released Tuesday.
With the goal of making Harford County a tourist desitination, the study recommends emphasizing youth sports, creating a destination marketing organization, implementing a hotel tax and building a mid-sized convention center.
Plans for a convention center are at the feasibility study stage and there is no timeline or estimated cost for such a building, , Harford County Tourism and Marketing Manager told Patch Tuesday.
"The county stands at a significant disadvantage as the only county, the only jurisdiction in the state that does not have a lodging tax," Donald Fry, presdent and CEO of Greater Baltimore Committee, said during the conference.
Fry explained other jurisdictions collect revenue for tourism efforts from lodging taxes, but without that tax in place, Harford County has limited resources.
"This funding recommendation is one of the key recommendations [in the study]," Fry said.
The study also recommends the county target meeting and sporting event business to cultivate the county's tourism market.
With Ripken Stadium and , Fry said the county has great potential for hosting sporting events.
"You could really become a national hub for youth sports," Fry said.
In addition to supporting sporting events, meeting and conference space could also be utilized to host events related to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Activity at APG has been much more robust because of the relocation of functions that BRAC brought with it. Fry pointed that along with has come a number of defense contractors who regularly have a need for conferences and group meetings.
"We don't have the meeting space to accommodate them," Fry said.
To that end, the study states the county could support a mid-sized conference center and recommends building one that would supply the needed meeting space and could host more than 200 events a year.
The first phase of the reccommended convention center would include a 12,000 sq ft. ball room, 8,000 sq ft. of meeting room space and an exhibit hall of 30,000 sq ft.
The study also recommends a destination marketing organization or convention and visitors bureau to give one voice and focus to the destination strategy.
"I think it shows we are well positioned to expand on these opportunities," County Executive David Craig said of the study.
Craig said there is a need for the county to invest more in tourism.
"We’re not trying to get the Olympics here, by the way," Craig said, laughing.
To view the full study, visit here.