MML Leaders Advocate for Tourism Zones in Senate; Joined by Secretary Anderson

(January 18, 2024) Annapolis, Md. – The Maryland Municipal League (MML) joined Senator Michael Jackson and Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kevin Anderson at the Senate Budget and Taxation hearing, January 18, in support of Senate Bill 14. SB 14 would enable Maryland’s 157 municipalities to establish Tourism Zones, bringing in new visitors, future residents and helping to attract new tourism-related business to cities, towns, and villages across the state.

“Representing three districts with diverse needs, literally fits this bill to a tee,” opened the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jackson. “Understanding that each [municipality] has their own particular needs, our job is to – as legislators – try to meet those needs.” The bill, if successful, would allow municipalities to self-designate the boundaries of a tourism zone, to establish definitions for tourism businesses and qualifications for incentives, and to provide certain local incentives. Incentives include, but are not limited to, real property tax credits, personal property tax credits, and exemption from local Admission and Amusement tax.

“My mission this year was to make sure each municipality was given a voice, and this MML legislative priority will allow each of our members to do just that, by sharing their unique story,” testified John Carroll, MML President and Mayor of Galena. MML released a study in December which recognized seven of the ten “Best Places to Visit in Maryland,” as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, are either within or border a municipality. Of Visit Maryland’s Top 20 attractions in Maryland, 12 are located within or border a municipality.

Acknowledging the role tourism plays in Maryland, and the potential for this legislation, Secretary Anderson added that “allowing municipalities across Maryland to establish tourism zones will be a powerful economic development tool that will support one of our most important industry sectors…. More than 43 million people visited Maryland in 2022 and spent $19.4 billion, and the overall economic impact of tourism was $30.3 billion, generating $2.3 billion in state and local taxes and supporting more than 187,000 jobs.”

The bill was further supported by testimony from statewide tourism businesses, tourism marketing agencies, and the Maryland Association of Counties. MML CEO Theresa Kuhns shares, “The Maryland Municipal League and its members take our partnership with the state seriously, and this is a bill that comes at the right time for Maryland. If we want to grow our economy, attract new residents and expand local business, we know municipalities across the state serve as the best positioned economic engines.”

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