From Visit Baltimore’s research, we know 54% of visitors traveled to Greater Baltimore to visit friends and relatives. Unfortunately, what some of these visitors are hearing from their hosts is bad news about Baltimore City. After living in the city for three years, I understand just how divided our region is and has been for decades.
It’s time for this separation to end and for county and city residents to come together for a greater Greater Baltimore.
We haven’t worked this way in the past – there’s a lack of coordination and forward-momentum. For Baltimore to achieve, blame can’t continue to fall on the shoulders of elected officials. Unity comes when politicians, city agencies, state officials, higher education, the private sector and residents work together. We know this method is successful by looking at cities like Detroit, Nashville and New Orleans as case studies.
As a first step towards this greater goal, Visit Baltimore has taken the lead on rebranding Baltimore through a process of deep stakeholder engagement and traveler research. We realized that, ironically, Baltimore’s image has been created by anyone BUT the individuals that represent the beating heart of this city.
The first six months of this rebrand initiative were spent in the community speaking with local leaders about what matters to them. Visit Baltimore will unveil a national campaign in April, but as a second phase we’ll roll out a civic pride campaign later this year.
Surrounding county residents must become our strongest ambassadors. Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard Counties – we need you to join us in this effort.
Al Hutchinson is President and CEO of Visit Baltimore.