The existing types of tourism that were listed in Section 1.6 would – collectively – provide a significant increase in economic activity if pursued more diligently, and it should be. However, it won’t likely result in ceasing the exodus of Crisfield’s youth. What does have a greater potential of achieving the objective is establishing a major attraction that will directly, and indirectly, generate traffic and create career opportunities of all types.
The 2008 CSRP recommended Crisfield construct what they identified as the “Maryland Bay Discovery Center,” and I wholeheartedly agree. The strategy that follows is based upon establishing a facility of this type, but do so at a scale where it will be a major attraction and make Crisfield – for the second time – a boomtown.
I do, however, feel that the name proposed in the 2008 CSRP limits the marketability for Crisfield’s history, culture and heritage extends beyond the border’s of MD, and many aspects have also influenced that of the entire region – and beyond. For this reason, the facility proposed within this report will be identified as the ‘Chesapeake Adventure & Discovery Center,’ with the acronym used for it being: ‘CA&DC.’
As previously stated, the Y-16 age group provides substantial economic activity, and, this strategy focuses on initially targeting educational field trips. There are numerous benefits to targeting this type of traffic, a predominate one is marketing/sales efficiency.
With field trips, all marketing and sales efforts are focused on 50 people at a time. A charter bus holds approximately 50 passengers, and this strategy has an initial goal of attracting 500 people per day which will require 10 sales per day. Additionally – if the students are provided with a favorable experience – many schools will become repeat customers every new school year.
Type of Tourism:
The traffic generated by the CA&DC is identified as ‘heritage tourism’ (history & culture), but additional attractions will be offered at the CA&DC to target other types of traffic as well.
Why Focus on Heritage Traffic?:
Those who know me may be aware that I’ve been pushing Crisfield’s historical narrative for some time. Even though I’ve always had a great interest for history, this isn’t why I dedicated myself to propagating it. The reason I did, and still do so, is because the more I learned about our history, the more I recognized that this was the greatest asset that Crisfield has.
Crisfield’s history, that’s commonly known and shared, is based upon the seafood industry itself and this is primarily what current heritage tourists are receiving when they visit. For example, they’re told that ‘Crisfield shipped ‘x’ amount of oysters in this year,’ and the story told is essentially the same with crabs, fish, terrapin, wildfowl, etc. These things are interesting, however, it will be very challenging to entice someone to drive 2-3hrs to visit Crisfield using this narrative.
While conducting my research I visited cities and towns around the Bay, and beyond, that had existing historic tourism initiatives. I did this to observe their methods, attractions, etc. Something else I did during these trips was study the visitors; I watched what caught people’s attention and what didn’t. I went to the eateries and gift shops to see what people were buying. I looked at the license plates on cars and buses to see how far they travelled. I learned a lot, but among the most important things I learned was that many of these other places are cashing in on what actually happened in Crisfield.
Almost every historic/cultural tourist destination around the Chesapeake has numerous exhibits specifically highlighting what originated in Crisfield, or was carried out on a level here that far exceeded anywhere else. I reached out to the curators of some of these museums, and other experts on Chesapeake Bay history, informing them how I was interested in starting a historic tourism business in Crisfield.
I was repeatedly told by them about how Crisfielders were “sitting on a goldmine” and how “Crisfield is the mecca of the Bay’s history.” Though one statement, or what was actually a question, that affected me the most – and equally embarrassed me – was when one person asked, “what’s wrong with you people [Crisfielders]? You have what everybody wants and aren’t doing a damn thing with it.”
I provide a summary of our historical narrative on the following pages that will hopefully illustrate to the reader of the validity of Crisfield’s ‘goldmine.’ I’ve studied many areas of history, and I can attest to the fact that our story is special – and firmly believe that it will sell.
Additional reasons why I feel that historic tourism is the logical path is because it provides a marketing theme to build recreational/amusement tourism on.
Incidentally, the amount of people who engage in heritage tourism is quite significant. A study performed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 40% of those surveyed travelled 50 miles or more to visit a historic destination. I encourage everyone to research the statistics on historic tourism for themselves – the numbers are substantial.