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Election Candidates Discuss Tourism

Candidates for Havre de Grace City Council discuss key issues with Patch.

 approached  with 11 topics of citizen concern, and we've compiled their responses for your consideration.

For more on the election, read here.

Below is their take on tourism in Havre de Grace, with incumbents listed first and challengers listed second, in alphabetical order:

Cullum has seen the tourism industry evolve during his four-plus decades in the city.

“We’ve come a very, very long way in tourism,” he said. “We have so many attractions for people here. We have so many museums and there are so many events going on. There’s so much for people to come to.”

Cullum said the city must continue promoting those things, because it is working.

“I go to a lot of places in the state and meet people from other places as part of the Maryland Municipal League. Everyone loves Havre de Grace,” Cullum said. “It didn’t used to be that way.”

Cullum would like to see some support from the local delegation to bring a hotel tax back to the area. The tax would help fund tourism efforts by the city and county.

“I think we could do even better if we could get our delegation to give us the hotel tax. All the other areas have that resource available for the promotion of their communities,” he said. “They don’t want to do that, and it’s really a bad situation.”

Bill Martin

Martin said he continues to be blown away by the staff and volunteers with the tourism department.

“I’ve always been very impressed with it,” he said. “They come up with creative ideas.”

Martin said he heard recently only three municipalities in the state have tourism offices—Baltimore, Ocean City and Havre de Grace.

He said he’d love to see another event like the LPGA Championship, which called home for years. He’s also in support of expanding the scope of the city’s events and entertainment options.

“There may not be a lot of things for the young crowd. I get that. I would support any business that wanted to come in and do that,” he said. “That’s why tourism is so important for our town, because we have things here that other towns don’t.”

Jim Miller

Miller said there are plenty of attractions in the city, the problem is with how they’re marketed.

He said the city’s tourism department and Main Street had a study done years ago to determine where advertising should be targeted, and if any new practices could be adopted.

He said most of the targeted audience should be “within a 75-mile radius of the city. A lot of people do day trips.”

Miller said another area for improvement is within the tourism website—which is going to be renovated.

He offered the suggestion to run offer a tiered directory which lists all the businesses in the city, and provides the opportunity to purchase expanded, enhanced listings—similar to Patch’s business directory.

He said only two antique shops are listed on the tourism site, versus six listed on North East’s site.

Miller wondered: “If you’re making your plans to spend your day somewhere, and you want to go antiquing, where are you going to head off to?

Dave Glenn

Glenn has always referred to Havre de Grace as a best kept secret in Maryland.

Not anymore.

“I don’t believe it anymore. The word’s out,” Glenn said.

Glenn credited the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, and various volunteer groups in town for supplementing the city’s efforts.

But Glenn would like to see businesses be willing to cater to both the daytime travelers and nighttime shoppers from within town.

“I would like to see businesses change their store hours a little. Maybe noon until 9,” he said. “By the time I get home and get down there, they’re pretty much closed. Not every store owner has the luxury to do that, but I think if they consider that, it would be a plus for them.”

Robert Sawyer

Sawyer said the city has done a nice job of providing necessary amenities, like the public bathroom at .

“That’s really kind of a nice touch,” he said. “Whatever we can do to make tourists feel welcome will enhance that.”

Still, Sawyer said there are some areas in downtown Havre de Grace that might need some improvement before tourism steps up.

“The restaurants are good, but they’re not knock-your-socks-off-good. There aren’t really any five-star restaurants,” he said. “When restaurants expand, sometimes the quality goes down. The same reason you want to keep the downtown area small is because it can be more of a boutique experience rather than you feel your just being harvested.”

Barry Scharbrough

Scharbrough said the focus should be on increasing foot traffic downtown by whatever means necessary.

“Offer some type of package through a local restaurant and a bed-and-breakfast for a long weekend where it would give out-of-towners a good amount of time to walk the city, learn the city, the waterfront, and there’s a lot of people that enjoy that type of history and we have a lot of it to offer,” he said. “That would be a great package offer with a special price for folks out of town to maybe save $50 rather than to book it individually.”

In terms of advertising, Scharbrough thinks the city could get a better bang for its buck.

“Target markets that are underserved through marketing and media print and get out to those markets that are based upon demographics that align themselves well with the Havre de Grace experience,” he said.

Scharbrough said he feels Havre de Grace is still undiscovered.

“To me, it’s a gem yet to be totally discovered. Its policed, but it needs to be polished a little more an enhanced a little more,” he said. “When you look at the natural surroundings, the waterfront, the access to the city, it’s not a hard sell to recommend to my friends to go and enjoy themselves.”

Smith said tourism should continue with what it’s been doing, but expand its focus to the night-time crowd.

“Pull people up from Bel Air or White Marsh. Make it a destination for people to come to for entertainment,” he said.

He said planning for large, one-time group visits—such as this summer’s return of the regional cruise ship—is crucial.

“What do we have for them to do while they’re here? We don’t want 100, 200 people downtown overwhelming downtown businesses,” he said.

His most passionate stance was in regard to the annual New Year’s Eve Duck Drop.

“Why in the world is the duck drop at the school and not downtown?,” Smith asked.

He recommended the city look into creating a three-dimensional duck, involving the local businesses district in a larger, night-long event and look to draw in regional crowds and national media attention.

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For more on the election, read here.

The Havre de Grace Election will be held May 8 at the  Hall on Pennington Avenue.

Stay with Patch for ongoing coverage leading up to the election.

Katie April 30, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I dunno why people take offense to other people trying to make things better. Your loss.
Dan Morrison May 01, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Katie, you are a joke! What did you wake up one morning and decide to write a blog about a fire company event you want to change. You personally have insulted the local fire company with your blog! You made a "advertisement" of someones event and change the name to a stupid name like rub a dub duck drop really lady have some kind of class! I do not know any of the people who work on this event but it was quite obvious it was fire department related! Why didn't anyone think to contact someone In the fire department to ask questions rather than try to take over a already successful event. You haha at the end of your post like it's a joke. To those volunteers it's not. Money doesn't grow on trees unless your planning on donating to the cause. I am not affiliated with the fire department but maybe I should be. If you think you can do it better maybe you should do your own duck drop for all the bar patrons you want to focus on not the families it's currently entertaining!
Sean Welsh May 02, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Sorry for the delay on the article. Had some breaking news to tackle since closing comments on this article. The response from Scott Hurst of the SHCO on the location of the duck drop is here: http://havredegrace.patch.com/articles/hurst-drop-notion-of-downtown-duck I've turned comments on this article back on, but they now require editor approval. Sean
ntflr May 17, 2012 at 07:04 AM
When you look at the events going on in Havre de Grace, everything is either geared to little, little children, or older to elderly adults. There's nothing for the older youth to do. I would love to see a concert hall, and before you suggest the concerts in the park, we need something a little more diverse than most of the country and bluegrass that is usually booked for that space. A movie theatre that played older cult classics would be cool too, and even for the little kids, having showings of kids movies would work out great. The decoy festival is nice, I hardly know of any teen to young adult that want's to go to that. During a the summer, what about a 'water war' at tydings? People can come with water guns and have a good time getting wet and cooling down. I also definitely agree with the advertising issue. A large majority of the people I talk to at the community college don't even know where Havre de Grace is.
Hans-Adam III, Prince of Liechtenstein May 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM
@ntfir It's okay Havre de Grace doesn't know where Havre de Grace is.

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