Wicomico County’s tourism efforts are expected to generate a $50 million dollar economic impact* in fiscal year 2016. Fifty events are currently on the books, the brunt of which, are sports-marketing related. These events will bring 130,000 visitors to the County and utilize more than 30,000 hotel room nights.
The year started off very strong with the return of the United States Specialty Sports Association’s Eastern World Series. The three-week series brought 400 girls softball teams to the area, generating a regional economic impact of almost $20 million, $10 of which was felt in Wicomico County. In September, the County’s Tourism Division assisted Delmarva Bike Week organizers in hosting their 15th anniversary event. The four day event stretched from Salisbury to Ocean City and generated an estimated 1,000 hotel room nights and an economic impact of $1 million. As Bike Week came to a close, the County welcomed the International Senior Softball Association (ISSA) for a 37 team tournament on Sept. 18-20. Games were played in both Wicomico County and Ocean City, generating an estimated $700,000 economic impact.
Looking ahead to the second quarter, Wicomico County Tourism has partnered with USSSA to host the returning Halloween Havoc youth softball tournament. This Halloween-themed softball event will include 47 teams, the highest registration since the event started in 2011. Twenty-three teams will compete on the first weekend followed by an additional twenty-four teams on the second weekend. Combined, the events are expected to generate over $800,000 of economic impact in the County.
The County’s efforts for the calendar year will culminate with the Governor’s Challenge High School Basketball tournament on December 26-30. Launched as the brain child of Wicomico High School Coach Butch Waller over 30 years ago, the holiday basketball tournament is recognized as an Eastern Shore staple. A recent partnership with DMVelite has brought a surge of growth, and the tournament’s reputation is spreading well beyond the Eastern Shore. The Governor’s Challenge is now the second largest event of its kind in the Country and the largest on the East Coast. The 2015 tournament is bringing together 100 teams, from six different states and Washington, DC., and generating an estimated $1.2 million economic impact.
*Wicomico County’s economic impact figures are estimated through a formula developed by the State of Maryland’s Business and Economic Development Department, Sports Marketing Division.