$12,794 grant funds melding of the hip and historic for Civil War geocaching trail

 DATE:   April 4, 2017                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Carol D’Agostino, (410) 604-2319; carol@purplecatpr.com

$12,794 grant funds melding of the hip and historic for Civil War geocaching trail

FREDERICK, MD – Marketing your strengths is important whether you are a business or a region. For many rural communities and regions throughout Maryland the real assets lie in the beauty of their landscape and the richness of their history. The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, one of the state’s 13 heritage areas, decided to leverage those assets to create a unique visitor experience to stimulate an interest in history while also channeling tourism dollars into the regional economy.

The heritage tourism and economic development project called the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Geocache Trail is funded by a $12,794 Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF) grant, which is administered by the Rural Maryland Council (RMC). The grant funded the development of 16 “treasure sites” or geocaches along a Civil War rich trail stretching through three counties: Carroll, Frederick and Washington. Participants use GPS-enabled devices to find items hidden in particular locations. Think of it as outdoor treasure hunting where the hip and historic meet.

“We have been thinking a lot about how to make history relevant to more people,” says Auni Gelles,

assistant director, Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, and grant project coordinator. “In general, people tend to think about history around big landmark years like the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and bicentennials. Geocaching and using technology are strategies that we can use to make history relevant to visitors and locals alike all the time,” she adds.
The geocaching trail was created with dual purposes: to boost attendance at existing historical sites and to create an economic development impact in the region where they are located. The trail officially opened on October 1, 2016. “We reviewed our first set of economic data when we were at about 180,” says Gelles. “Approximately 89 percent of the people reported purchasing a meal or snack while here; 71 percent bought gasoline and 8 percent spent a night in a hotel. We expect the numbers to continue to support that this project is having an economic impact in the region,” she adds.

Creating impact to a region and collaborating with partners were two aspects that made this project particularly attractive to the funder. “This project impacts five Main Street communities in three counties,” says Charlotte Davis, executive director of the Rural Maryland Council. “It’s continued economic development effects through visitor spending in Westminster, Taneytown, Mt. Airy, Frederick and Middletown is an important side benefit of a clever history education project. It has been great to see organizations like the Maryland Geocaching Society as well as the multiple historic sites and county tourism offices come together to develop this project,” she adds.

For the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area the real magic of the project has been its success in igniting new interest in history not only for visitors, but also for locals as well. “Participants are encouraged to leave comments when they turn in their Geocaching Passports to receive their geocoin rewards when they complete the trail. We not only have heard from visitors, some who have traveled from other states, but also from locals who have spent years driving past historic sites and for the first time stopped to do the geocache trail,” says Gelles.
One of 13 designated heritage areas in Maryland, the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area serves three counties and 24 municipalities. It’s mission is to promote the stewardship of its historic, cultural, and natural Civil War resources; encourage superior visitor experiences; and stimulate tourism, economic prosperity, and educational development, thereby improving the quality of life in our community for the benefit of both residents and visitors. For more information on the Geocaching Trail, contact (301) 600-4031, visit       www.heartofthecivilwar.org/geo-trail or email info@heartofthecivilwar.org

Founded in 1994, the Rural Maryland Council serves as the state’s federally designated rural development council and functions as a voice for rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communities and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity to its suburban and urban counterparts.  To learn more call (410) 841-5774, email rmc.mda@maryland.gov or connect with the Rural Maryland Council at facebook.com/RuralMaryland or on Twitter @RuralMaryland.


Geocache user “Pathfinder Mark” and his daughter after finding a geocache at Emerald Hill Park in Carroll County.

More than 100 “cachers” attended the official launch of the Heart of the Civil War GeoTrail at the Frederick Visitor Center on October 1, 2016.

Support of Maryland Beer at Senate Hearing


CONTACT: Susan O’Brien, 443-254-6000, susanobrienpr@verizon.net



Craft Beverage Tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of Maryland Tourism

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Tourism Coalition Executive Director Winifred Roche will testify today in support of HB 1283 with amendments that allow the Maryland craft brew industry to continue its growth and contribution to Maryland’s economy and tourism.  Joining her to testify will be Barry Hansen, chief operating officer for City Brew Tours. City Brew Tours, based in Boston, operates City Brew Tours Baltimore.

“Maryland’s breweries, as well as our wineries and distilleries, are one of the fastest growing segments of our state’s tourism industry. Their products’ exceptional quality and successful marketing campaigns are attracting thousands of visitors to Maryland,” said Ms. Roche. “Look no further than City Brew Tours, which opened its doors in Baltimore to accommodate the growing interest in craft beverage tourism. This company is just one of many companies that demonstrate the impact of tourism on Maryland’s economy. If this bill passes without amendments, it will set back years of growth by these small businesses, most of which are family owned and operated. To pass legislation that deliberately limits their ability to produce and sell their product is terrible for business and for tourism.”

Mr. Hansen added, “We hope to grow our small business in Baltimore in tandem with these breweries and we hope to expand in other areas of the state. Passing this bill without amendments would prevent our business from continuing to operate in Baltimore at all and would have far-reaching consequences preventing growth of small business. City Brew Tours selected Baltimore as its fifth operating city due to the growth in craft breweries and the amount of people looking to visit them. Further restrictions will unravel the industry, which has only just begun to blossom in Maryland. When we launched in Boston in 2012, Massachusetts has 49 breweries. Regulations that have been passed in recent years paved the way for brewery expansion. Last year, Massachusetts had 84 breweries contributing an economic impact of $282 per capita compared to Maryland’s 60 craft breweries with only $150 per capita economic impact.”

Maryland tourism is the state’s 10th largest private sector employer with more than 144,000 employees. Over 40 million visitors to Maryland spent roughly $17 billion in the state in 2015, according to a recent study.           












MTC Presents Tourism Advocate Award to Governor & Comptroller

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                 CONTACT:      Susan O’Brien
March 3, 2017                                                                                                         443-254-6000



Governor & Comptroller also declared March as Maryland Wine Month

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), led by Board Chair Michael Haynie and Executive Director Wini Roche, today presented Governor Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot its coveted Tourism Advocate award during the annual Tourism Day in Annapolis. The Maryland Park Commission also presented Senator Ed Kasemeyer with the State Park Legislative Champion award in honor of his support of Maryland State Forests and Parks.

“With one signature on an Executive Order to start the school year after Labor Day, Governor Hogan has enabled Maryland families to enjoy their summers again. His action, along with Comptroller Franchot’s longtime support, will help thousands of mostly locally owned, family-operated businesses regain lost income,” said Ms. Roche.

The Governor’s executive order, signed on August 31, 2016, declared that all Maryland public schools begin the 2017-2018 school year after Labor Day and end by June 15.

“Tourism is a driving force in Maryland’s economy that creates jobs, supports our small businesses, and generates billions of dollars in revenue to our state each year,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “It has and will always be a top priority of our administration,” said Governor Hogan.

For several years, Comptroller Franchot had championed the effort after meeting with business leaders from Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake and other vacation destinations around Maryland.

“Marylanders overwhelmingly support starting school after Labor Day,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Families get more time to spend together, small businesses see more sales, and by ending by June 15th, students experience a more compact academic schedule that maximizes learning without constant disruptions.”

The awards were the highlight of the day, which brings together more than 300 tourism industry partners to meet one-on-one with their legislators and discuss the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Tourism Development and Marketing budget, as well as other bills pending that impact tourism.

After the awards ceremony, Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot officially proclaimed March as Maryland Wine Month to showcase Maryland wine growers, a significant contributor to Maryland’s tourism economy.

Maryland tourism is the state’s 10th largest private sector employer with more than 144,000 employees. Over 40 million visitors to Maryland spent roughly $17 billion in the state in 2015, according to a recent study.

A full economic impact of tourism in Maryland study, recently completed by nationally renowned Oxford Economics is available here.


Destination Maryland 2017: The Official Guide to Maryland Travel is Available Now

Produced by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, Destination Maryland is an inspirational travel guide that combines stunning photography and stories written by Maryland writers.

This year’s guide includes works from authors who have also written for publications including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Washingtonian, and offers travel ideas including adventures of all kinds, road trip suggestions and tips from Maryland experts including celebrity chefs Brian and Michael Voltaggio. Destination Maryland is available at state Welcome Centers, restaurants, and other tourist locations and can be ordered free online at visitmaryland.org.

Celebrate Winter Dining During Restaurant Weeks Across Maryland

It’s a great time to be a foodie with six great restaurant weeks on the menu in January. Enjoy seasonal specials and prix fixe menu options at
Baltimore Restaurant Week, January 13-22;
Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week, January 13-22;
National Harbor Restaurant Week, January 14-20;
Harford County Restaurant Week, January 20-29; and
Baltimore County Restaurant Week, January 20-February 4.

Maryland Hotel Lodging Association Calls for “Stars of the Industry” Nominations

The Maryland Hotel Lodging Association has put out a call for nominations for their 28th annual “Stars of the Industry” awards. Nominations fall under three categories: Employee Awards, Lodging Property Achievement Awards, and Allied Member Awards, and must be received by January 13. Award winners will be announced at the Stars of the Industry Awards Luncheon to be held on Tuesday, February 7 at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve in Hanover. For more information follow this link.

MTC Hires New Executive Director


The Maryland Tourism Coalition has named Wini Roche as the organization’s new executive director.

WiniRocheThe leading advocacy organization for Maryland’s tourism industry, MTC is a non-profit membership association that represents the state’s tourism industry and supports the efforts of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development.

Roche will administer day-to-day operations for the organization, which includes managing all communications activities, growing membership, and lobbying local, county and state officials on behalf of the tourism industry.

“Wini brings a passion for tourism and a love for all things Maryland,” says MTC Chairman Kevin Atticks, founder of Grow & Fortify. “We are confident that she is the right person to help us move our organization forward.”

Originally from Cambridge, Maryland, Roche has more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning destination marketing professional and grassroots tourism advocate. She served as tourism director in Dorchester County from 1994-2001 and was instrumental in the continuing revitalization of this Chesapeake town. She was a founder of Sailwinds Park and worked with local and state lawmakers to bring the waterfront development project to fruition, including the multi-million dollar visitor center, the public park, and event space.

She also helped galvanize the Dorchester County community around the concept of heritage tourism and began the planning process that has led to the county’s designation as a Certified Heritage Area and resulted in the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom scenic by-way and Harriet Tubman State Park.

Roche later moved to the northern part of the Bay where she created a tourism program for the City of Havre de Grace and established the town as a destination for weddings and leisure travel. In 2006, she became the tourism and marketing manager for Harford County Government and brought the county notoriety with the “Harford County Love it!” campaign and her popular video blog series, “Where’s Wini?”

She worked to increase local tourism funding and helped secure a local lodging tax that would be dedicated to tourism marketing activities. She led the charge to create Visit Harford!, a conference and visitors bureau that would become a public-private partnership and would ultimately be funded with revenue from the hotel tax.

In August 2015, Roche launched her own tourism and marketing consulting firm, Roche & Associates. Her company was contracted to manage the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit, MTC’s signature event, held at Turf Valley Resort last October.

She also served a term on the gubernatorial-appointed Maryland Tourism Development Board and was a board member of the Maryland Tourism Coalition for more than 13 years where she volunteered to promote awareness of the tourism industry through the Tourism Works for Maryland Campaign. She was the organizer of Tourism Day in Annapolis since 2010 where hundreds of industry leaders convene in Annapolis during the General Assembly Session to meet with elected leaders and heighten the awareness of the tourism industry.

Roche and her husband Mark reside in Havre de Grace, with children Michael, Alex and Andrew. She also is a board member of the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy that is working to restore the Skipjack Martha Lewis. She enjoys musical theater and is a board member of the Tidewater Players.

“Tourism makes a difference in the lives of Marylanders” says Wini Roche. “I look forward to all the ways we can make that difference even greater.”

Tourism Day ’15 was huge

Tourism Day ’15 was huge

The Maryland Tourism Coalition is pleased to announce that Maryland Tourism Day in Annapolis on February 13, 2015 was huge with more participants than ever. Guests included over 50 legislators, DBED Secretary Mike Gill, Lt. Governor Rutherford and Comptroller Franchot, and over 150 tourism representatives from around the state.