Maryland Office of Tourism Releases C&O Canal Tourism Research Study(News Summary)

Allegany County Office of Tourism
701 Kelly Road
Cumberland, MD 21502

Maryland Office of Tourism Releases C&O Canal Tourism Research Study
The C&O Canal National Historical Park is the eighth most-visited park in the NPS system

May 5, 2021 - CUMBERLAND, MD – The Maryland Office of Tourism Development (OTD) has partnered with Rockport Analytics and conducted a study for the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) covering the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland region. In 2020, the National Park Service announced that the C&O Canal National Historic Park was the 8th most-visited park out of 423 National Park Service sites. Allegany County Tourism served as a partner on this project alongside Washington, Frederick, and Montgomery counties’ tourism offices.

"This research, covering two-years (2019-2020) of C&O Canal Park visitation, provides insight into the people who visit this national treasure and the nearby communities to encourage people to enjoy this amazing place in Maryland’s backyard," said Liz Fitzsimmons, Managing Director, OTD. "Research like this bolsters OTD's commitment to research-based tourism development strategies, supports the efforts of our DMO partners, and affirms the value of the C&O Canal National Historical Park as an important driver for tourism in the region and as a cultural and economic benefit to all Marylanders."

The goal of this study was to gain a comprehensive understanding of C&O Canal NHP visitor activities and evaluate its economic impact on tourism. Findings from this study can be leveraged to optimize the return on investment (ROI) of state and local marketing and planning resources by better geo-targeting visitors and creating meaningful and compelling campaigns to attract people to the region that will provide an outsized economic benefit.  The economic impact results can also be used to give key stakeholders and policymakers a greater understanding of the importance of the C&O Canal NHP as a driver of state and regional economic development.

Key findings from the study revealed that in 2019, the Canal…

  • Welcomed 1.3 million visitors that traveled more than 50 miles or stayed overnight to visit the Canal;

  • Generated $309 million in visitor spending;

  • Supported 3,902 jobs with a total of $156 million wages & salaries paid;

  • Retained $235.5 million in the local economy;

  • And the C&O Canal NHP saved each household more than $85 in state & local taxes.

The C&O Canal Towpath runs 184.5 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD, along the historic C&O Canal, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a National Park in 2021. Allegany County accounts for 50 miles of the 184.5 mile towpath. In 2019, the study reported 137,405 direct visits to the Allegany County towpath section. 85% of park visitors also visited towns or cities along the towpath, and in 2019, 354,389 visitors were reported to have traveled to Allegany County trail towns - Cumberland and/or Frostburg, as a result of first traveling to Maryland to experience the national park.

To access the full report, please visit