Last week, 10 teams competed for a $50,000 grant in a pitch competition held live at the 38th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit in Cambridge, Md. The competition, “Crab Tank on the Choptank,” loosely based on the hit television show “Shark Tank,” featured contestants presenting their tourism marketing campaign ideas to the “crabs, ” or judges, in the tank. The prize was ultimately awarded to the Town of Ocean City, who teamed up with six Eastern Shore county tourism officials, to pitch the “Chase the Blue Crab” trail.

“We wanted to generate new innovative ways of encouraging out-of-state travelers to explore Maryland’s beauty,” said Liz Fitzsimmons, Managing Director, Maryland Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts. “Many of us in the tourism industry are use to working in silos where there is a high-level of comfort, but ‘Crab Tank’ served as an interactive opportunity for those within the industry to cross-collaborate in order to create a program and promotion to encourage travel.”

“We saw this as a great opportunity to expand group tour travel itineraries across the Eastern Shore,” said Kristen Goller, Tourism Manager for Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism.  “We are thrilled to have won the additional marketing support by the Maryland Office of Tourism and look forward to enhancing visitor experiences by chasing the blue crab.”

Held live during the 38th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit in Cambridge, Maryland, the first-ever “Crab Tank on the Choptank” consisted of ten teams from across the state. Teams created programs and promotions that targeted four specific categories: human-powered recreation, family travel, multicultural/diversity travel and group travel. Each team participated in convincing the crabs to invest in their marketing campaign to increase visitation to Maryland. The “Big Crabs” included: Charmaine Singh of Reach Global, Vicki Osman of American Bus Association, Chris Adams of Miles Marketing Partnership, Mike DeAnzeris of Meredith Travel Marketing and Michael Haynie the former Chair of the Maryland Tourism Coalition.The winning crustacean receives $50,000 in promotional exposure by the Maryland Office of Tourism, a division of the Maryland Department of Commerce.

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