Baltimore is quietly becoming the Mid Atlantic’s top travel hub. In 2009, two major transportation companies are making their mark in Baltimore. This not only brings new options for travelers, but also opportunities for the local economy.
Last weekend kicked off the Carnival Festival to celebrate the new line of Carnival Cruises departing from Port Authority in Baltimore. Beginning in September 2009, Carnival will run 7-night vacations from the city year round. Before, the only available cruise lines were Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Celebrity and they only ran May-December. The amount of trips offered soared from 27 trips in 2008 to 79 trips in 2009 and 92 trips in 2010. This increase in traveling from Baltimore brought in over $63 million dollars in 2008 and an estimated $152 million in 2009. The addition of this cruise line will not only bring in money for Baltimore, but offers tourists “the closest east coast drive-to-port from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago.”
Cruise lines are not the only booming travel industry for the Baltimore market. Jet Blue Airlines has announced this week that it will begin offering round trip flights from BWI Airport beginning September 2009. Prior to this, the closest airport Jet Blue flew out of was Dulles in Virginia. Not only does Jet Blue offer discount domestic, but international flights as well. This is going to give the dominant carrier Southwest Airlines stiff competition for the Mid Atlantic region.
With the addition of these two major companies joining the Baltimore market, there is a huge opportunity for city and state tourism dollars to increase. The city, along with the Inner Harbor, restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality services should see a rise in sales within the next year. With Carnival departing from Baltimore, tourists now have the chance to experience the area for a day or two before their trip to the Caribbean or other vacation destination. Airline passengers now have two discount airline options at BWI which should increase the number of people departing from the airport. Both of these represent growth and opportunity for Baltimore and Maryland’s tourism industries.