ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND—Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC) is teaming up with Annapolis Green to promote enhanced environmental stewardship during the U.S. Travel Association’s May 6-12 National Travel and Tourism Week celebration.

VAAAC President and CEO Connie Del Signore says this year’s theme, “Travel Then and Now,” provides the perfect opportunity to showcase ongoing environmental initiatives that are underway in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. “Savvy, environmentally-conscious travelers patronize destinations that share their same concern for Mother Earth. They look for destinations with strong environmental track records and plan their trips accordingly. Tourism Week provides the perfect opportunity to share the economic impact travel and tourism have on our economy. Having a clean, green destination is part of the appeal.”

According to Tourism Economics’ most recent “Economic Impact of Tourism in Maryland” report, nearly 7.2 million individuals spent more than $3.7 billion while visiting Annapolis and Anne Arundel County in 2016. That represents a 2.2% increase in visitors and a 2.1% in visitor spending over the previous year. The tourism industry in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County directly employed 21,700 individuals in 2016, up from 21,561 jobs in 2015.

Annapolis Green Co-founders, Lynne Forsman and Elvia Thompson, say they’re delighted to use National Travel and Tourism Week as a vehicle for sharing some of the recent strides Annapolis Green and its nonprofit and business partners have made in boosting environmental awareness and practices in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

VAAAC and Annapolis Green will kick off National Travel and Tourism Week festivities a day early – on Saturday, May 5th with series of green events and activities that begins with a 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. cleanup of four designated areas of the City. As a Keep America Beautiful affiliate, Annapolis Green is partnering with the City of Annapolis and community leaders and organizations to coordinate #CleanYOURblock efforts as part of Keep America Beautiful’s nationwide “Great American Cleanup.”

Interested individuals are invited to show up at one of four locations: Poplar trail (Loews Hotel delivery entrance) on Taylor Avenue across from the Police Department. Volunteers are requested to park as close as possible to the entrance gate; far corner of Graul’s Market parking lot (607 Taylor Avenue) across from the firehouse; Bates Trail parking lot behind Maryland Hall (801 Chase Street) by Weems-Whalen field. An Eastport location is being determined and will be announced on the Annapolis Green website at Area captains will provide participants with instructions and bags generously donated by Graul’s Market.

It’s hoped that cleanup efforts at the four designated sites will inspire interested individuals throughout Annapolis and Anne Arundel County to coordinate cleanups in their own neighborhoods on Saturday as well.

Following #CleanYOURblock, National Travel and Tourism Week festivities will continue with an open house and refreshments at the 26 West Street Visitors Center from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Helen Lowman have confirmed their plans to attend.

Reflecting the United Nations’ theme for Earth Day 2018 – “End Plastic Pollution” – many of Annapolis Green’s initiatives focus on reducing single-use plastics. To that end, at 11:00 a.m., Mayor Buckley will join Elkay Manufacturing Company representative Abid Khaleel in dedicating an Elkay permanent water refill station recently installed at the Visitors Center. Single use plastic bottles make up much of the recyclable trash in the United States. The station makes it easy for visitors to fill reusable bottles with free filtered water. Forsman says the strategy is a simple one, “If individuals can easily fill up their water bottles, they’ll buy less – or no – bottled water. That means they’ll create less recyclable trash.” The VAAAC refill station was made possible by an Elkay sponsorship obtained by Annapolis Green.

Continuing with the environmental theme, attendees will then move outside for the dedication of a 7’ x 48” Blue Heron sculpture the City of Annapolis plans to install in the surface parking lot behind the 26 West Street Visitors Center prior to National Travel and Tourism Week. Created by Jim Swaim of the North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Company, Environmental Sculptures, the custom designed, hand-crafted metal sculpture is made from mild steel 14-guage thick and round one-quarter-inch to 3/16” steel rods. The heron’s body is designed to be filled with picked-up trash – as a way of encouraging passersby to pick up after themselves. Debris from the morning cleanups will be the first trash inserted into the new work of art. The fixture is a salute to Annapolis’ Art in Public Places initiative. Swaim has created a similar sculpture – a Blue Crab – that resides at the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s McNasby campus in Eastport.

To help make special events more environmentally friendly, Annapolis Green has invested in a NAPTOWN TAP portable water refill station that will be on display during the May 5th National Travel and Tourism Week event. The TAP is designed to provide free filtered water at outdoor special events – thus helping to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic water bottles. Thanks to a grant from BGE, Annapolis Green has purchased three NAPTOWN TAPS. Manufactured in Australia, they are the first to be used in the United States.

Plastic straws are another single-use pollution culprit Annapolis Green is on a mission to eliminate. Some 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States daily, and they aren’t recyclable. That means many of them end up in the Chesapeake Bay, in the oceans, and our nation’s food chain – since pieces are ingested by marine mammals. During Annapolis Restaurant Week in February, Annapolis Green launched a “Don’t Suck. #SipResponsibly campaign to encourage restaurants and bars to present straws only upon request – and to include paper straws, rather than plastic ones, in their inventory. According to Thompson, “Every plastic straw that was ever made is still in our environment, and we keep making more. Plastic straws and plastic silverware usually don’t get recycled because they’re too small. The litter we have on land typically ends up in the water. Any beach cleanup is filled with plastic bags, bottles and straws.” Throughout National Tourism Week, Thompson and Forsman will once again be encouraging Annapolis Area restaurants to do what they can to reduce the use of plastic straws.

Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County is a non-profit, membership-based destination marketing organization that generates revenues for the local economy by promoting Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay to leisure and business travelers across the country and around the world.

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