There are several significant special events that annually pack an economic punch for the Ocean City area, but there’s no mistaking the most impactful of them all. It’s clearly the White Marlin Open and has been for many years.
The key ingredient separating the White Marlin Open, confirmed as the richest billfishing tournament in the world with its $6.1 million purse this year, is its nearly a two-week impact. While the tournament runs the first full week in August every year, the participants and their family members generally arrive the Friday before and stay through the following weekend. Additionally, the tournament is also earmarked as vacation week for many.
The energy of the White Marlin Open is unmistakable. While its headquartered at the Harbour Island marina, the vitality is felt regionally and especially around the marinas in West Ocean City where it’s akin to Super Bowl week for host destinations for the professional football championship.
The last economic impact report on the tournament was conducted by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in 2009. The study calculated an estimated $16 million in local expenditures, $4.9 million in salaries and 130 jobs. The total impact on state and local tax revenues was reported as $746,000 according to the study.
This evaluation was conducted the year the tournament had about 300 boats registered. When taking into account this year’s boat tally of more than 400, inflation and increased expenses associated with just about any good currently, it’s a safe assumption that $16 million economic impact figure is doubled this year.
It’s the best stretch of the year for most area businesses and the strength of the national economy made this year’s White Marlin Open one of the most successful ever, breaking what is believed to be a world record in prize money for a fishing tournament at $6.1 million.
On its own, thanks to some of the tremendous fish weighed in daily and the excitement of millions of dollars on the line, the tournament draws a considerable amount of publicity each year for Ocean City. This year, however, the exposure the tournament received reached an all-time high with NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s entry into the event.
Indeed, the White Marlin Open continues to be the king special event in Ocean City because of its unmatched economic impact as well as the positive publicity it brings each August.