In her role as the director of Kent County Economic & Tourism Development in Kent County, Maryland, Jamie Williams understands the strategic relationship between travel and growth at home. “Tourism is always economic development, and it generates new dollars coming into your community,” she says. “It’s also the front door to people who are looking for the next place to live and/or work. Economic and tourism development has to be working together for communities to thrive, especially small communities such as Kent County.” We chatted with Williams to learn more about Kent County’s group-friendly offerings.
Q. How would you describe Kent County to someone who has never visited before?
A. It’s the ‘Home of Wide-Open Spaces.’ [There is] vast countryside and farmland, coupled with many, many water views. Kent County, Maryland, is about an hour and a half drive from Baltimore and directly across the Chesapeake Bay by water. Three of Kent County’s boundaries are water: the Chesapeake Bay, the Chester River, and the Sassafras River. Outdoor recreation is plentiful and includes boating, fishing, hunting, crabbing, paddling, trails, parks, etc. One of the most hidden gems is the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge Area. It is truly nature at its finest with many opportunities for birding throughout the seasons.
Q. What makes Kent County a great place for group tours?
A. It’s a slower pace and a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You truly can escape for a day and enjoy nature at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge Area, outside of Rock Hall, or Cypress Branch State Park in Millington.
[We want groups to] come here to relax and enjoy nature. Our culinary scene is very eclectic, and you can find everything from fresh seafood to farm-raised beef and pork served in Kent County’s many eating establishments.
Q. How does your organization help tour operators plan their group tours?
A. We work with tour operators and our restaurants, lodging establishments, retail shops, and experience providers to tailor the group size to appropriate tourism partners.
Q. What’s your long-term outlook for group tours in Kent County?
A. We would love to see more of them and are working to add amenities to attract and host larger groups.
Q. Is there anything new or upcoming in Kent County that groups should know about?
A. Our signature event is the Chestertown Tea Party Festival, which is held over Memorial Day weekend. It is also our longest-running annual event. Other annual events include the Pirates & Wenches Weekend, the Dogwood Festival, the Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend Tall Ship and Wooden Boat Festival, and the National Music Festival. More information about Kent County’s events can be found at kentcounty.com/events.
Q. Is there anything else tour operators should know about Kent County?
A. We are geared toward smaller groups of 30 or less currently.
Credit: Kent County Economic & Tourism Development