Tourist destinations have been some of the hardest-hit parts of the economy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the Chesapeake Bay’s charming waterfront towns are no exception. Attractions were closed for months, and nearly all festivals and big events are canceled this year.
But with the reopening of maritime museums and other Bay cultural centers comes opportunity for staycationers and visitors coming by car. One of them, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, aims to be a leader in the efforts to bring people back to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and help buoy the local economy.
CBMM just released a new study looking at how much the museum contributes to the economy in the Town of St. Michaels, Talbot County and the state of Maryland. In 2019 (pre-pandemic, of course), the impact study shows visitors traveling specifically to visit CBMM from more than 50 miles away generated $11.6 million in visitor spending.
“CBMM is a proven driver of our local economy,” said CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “As a rising tide lifts all boats, we hope that our efforts can bring successes not just to CBMM, but to our entire community, both locally and statewide.”
$11 million was spent in St. Michaels on travel-related goods and services, like hotels, marinas, restaurants and local shopping. The study also finds out-of-state visitors coming to check out CBMM generated $6.5 million in net economic impact for Maryland.
“When our local businesses thrive, we all thrive, and the results from the in-depth study is proof that CBMM will play a key role in the Eastern Shore’s economic recovery due to COVID-19,” Greenaway says.
The study, conducted by Annapolis-based independent research firm Rockport Analytics, finds the museum is also a big job generator—another area in which much of the country is hurting. Museum visitor and business operations spending supported more than 250 direct jobs in Talbot County, the report shows. CBMM is providing certified workforce training in the form of its working shipyard’s four-year apprenticeship program. The $5 million contract to build a new Maryland Dove created 10 jobs.
The museum hopes to continue bringing visitors back to the Eastern Shore. Since reopening in late June, health and safety measures are in effect and a brand new exhibit is open, with another coming in September.
-Meg Walburn Viviano