Road Warrior

Baltimore tourism industry tries to put riots in rear view mirror

Harriet Baskas, Special to CNBC
The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race, hosted by American Visionary Art Museum was canceled in early May due to unrest in the city, but is taking place Sunday, June 14.
Source: Rich Wilke |

In the wake of months of unrest and a record month of murders, Baltimore may be a tough sell to potential vacationers as a destination for care-free summer fun.

That won't stop hotels, restaurants, attractions and city officials in Charm City, who insist they are up for the challenge.

For Baltimore's economy, the stakes are high. About 80,000 local jobs are dependent on the tourism industry, and close to 24 million tourists visited the city and spent $5.15 billion in 2013, a 2.2 percent increase in visitor spending over the year before.

What happened in Baltimore "is not a secret," said Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, "Who in the U.S. didn't see the images on TV? But now we need to keep people informed and work on winning confidence back."

One way officials are doing that is with a hard-to-miss "What do I need to know?" button on the Visit Baltimore website, and a FAQ section that addresses issues of safety and security in the city.