County Sees Jump In Ad Funding

SNOW HILL– A substantial increase in tourism funding from the state will allow Worcester County to increase its advertising efforts.

The Worcester County Commissioners last week agreed to sign off on a grant from the Maryland Tourism Development Board for $1,012,508. The funding will be used for advertising and marketing.

“Worcester County has never seen that amount of money to go toward advertising,” said Melanie Pursel, director of the Worcester County Office of Tourism and Economic Development.

Pursel told the commissioners the county receives a grant from the state for advertising and marketing each year. While the county received just $127,513 last fiscal year, in the coming year the county is set to receive $1,012,508—an $884,995 increase. Pursel said the grant amount varied each year, in part because of the grant pool and more recently because of the pandemic.

“It is also dependent on the levels of advertising expenditures in all the other counties in the state of Maryland,” she wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “In addition, Gov. Hogan infused an additional $8 million into tourism, specifically for advertising.”

She said it was divided among county destination marketing organizations based on a funding formula. Worcester County this year will be receiving the second highest allocation in the state, according to Pursel.

“As we know, Ocean City dedicates a large portion of room tax revenue to go toward advertising so we’ve seen them increase their budget over the years,” she said. “Typically we would try to capitalize on those visitors that come to Ocean City and draw them down into the county. This is going to afford us the opportunity to go out of market a little bit this year and really put Maryland’s Coast, Worcester County, on the map.”

Commissioners asked if the funding could be used to help advertise attractions in the southern end of the county such as Furnace Town.

“We typically do that…,” Pursel said. “We have already been supporting those types of endeavors this just allows us to do a lot more with it.”

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom said he was thrilled to see the increase in funding from the state.

“I couldn’t believe it when I first saw the increase,” he said. “I cannot wait to see what you do with the rest of this.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.