Much Progress Made On OC’s First Tourism Strategic Plan

OCEAN CITY — Much was accomplished on the resort’s tourism strategic plan’s list of priorities in 2015, but much more is on the radar for the coming year, Ocean City Tourism Committee members learned this week.

The list of high priority action items for 2015 included the tourism marketing plan, the next phase of the Convention Center expansion, continued advocacy for increased state tourism spending, and better data collection on visitors including where they come from and how long they stay, for example. Also placed high on the priority list for last year was advocating on behalf of a mandated post-Labor Day school start, continued redevelopment of the “model block” in the downtown area, an expansion of the Halloween-related special events in the fall, an expansion of the sports tournament marketing partnership with Worcester and Wicomico County, greater enforcement of the town’s new smoking ordinance on the beach and Boardwalk and a needs inventory for Northside Park, for example.

Most of the high priority goals for 2015 were accomplished to varying degrees during the past year, but many remain works in progress. Nonetheless, the accomplishments were praised by committee members and the quasi-public partners.

“It’s exciting to see the progress,” said Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melanie Pursel. “When you see this list and see what has been accomplished, we really were able to get a lot done in a short time and we want to keep that momentum going.”

With the General Assembly reconvening this week, Ocean City Tourism Manager Donna Abbott said advocating for more state funding for tourism statewide and an increase in the matching funds for Ocean City will continue to be a top priority early in 2016.

“There were a bunch of new legislators last year and Ocean City was well-represented on tourism advocacy day,” she said. “The governor has been very supportive of tourism and hopefully that will continue.”

Councilman and committee member Dennis Dare also praised the accomplishments, but advocated for a continued push for some initiatives including the proposed 50-plus events.

“Let’s try to avoid the seven-year rule,” he said. “The first year there is a discussion of doing something to get seniors in town and seven years later something actually happens. Let’s try to get that down to three or four years.”