Ocean City Today

OC tourism revenue increased during 2016

By Greg Ellison | Jan 11, 2018

(Jan. 12, 2018) Ocean City hosted over two million visitors and tourism revenues topped $1.5 billion during 2016, according to a recently released report from the Maryland Office of Tourism Development.

Tourism Director Donna Abbott, who reviewed the annual report during the Tourism Commission meeting on Monday, said the state contracts with Tourism Economics to compile data from an array of sources from every county in Maryland.

“A few months ago, we got the 2016 numbers and we nearly wrapped up 2017, but it does take them a lot of time to go out and collect all the information,” she said.

Tourism revenues increased during 2016, reaching $1.518 billion after totaling $1.456 billion in 2015, the report found.

“Over the year for tourism industry sales we had an overall growth rate of 4.3 percent,” she said.

Breaking down the $1.5 billion tally, the report shows lodging revenues of $308 million, food and beverage receipts over $306 million, retail sales of more than $194.7 million, recreation generating roughly $212.4 million, approximately $216.8 million from transportation and $280 million from second homes.

The continuous flow of beach vacationers also generated more than $284 million in tax receipts during 2016 the report found.

“The total tourism tax received [was] $103.3 million in federal taxes, [as well as] $181 million in state and local taxes,” she said.

Tourism accounted for total employment numbers of 9,029 in 2016, up slightly from 8,924 jobs in 2015, with workers earning more than $288 million, up from approximately $279 million in 2015, according to the report.

In 2016, the number of visitors grew by 3.9 percent to approximately 2.037 million, which represents a 3.9 percent increase compared to the previous year, the report found.

Abbott said the report estimates 53.5 percent came for day trips to the beach, instead of staying overnight, but also questioned the accuracy of tourists’ head counts.

“That’s something we all struggle about counting visitors in Ocean City,” she said.

In previous years, population estimates were based on Demoflush numbers, which monitored wastewater flow to estimate population counts for a weekend. In use since 1971, the toilet flush counts have since been supplemented with other data, including room tax receipts, hotel occupancy reports and bus ridership figures.

“When we still used Demoflush, these numbers in this report were much lower than our … numbers,” she said, “I’d like to delve into that more.”

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