The Perfect Enemy | Downtown Rebound: Baltimore attracts more tourists than other cities after COVID-19 - CBS Baltimore
April 12, 2024

Downtown Rebound: Baltimore attracts more tourists than other cities after COVID-19 – CBS Baltimore

Downtown Rebound: Baltimore attracts more tourists than other cities after COVID-19  CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE – Research pulled from cell phone data shows Baltimore is faring better than many other cities in attracting people downtown.

“I’m just thinking that Baltimore is on the rise,” New Jersey visitor Rosetta Shaw said.

CBS’ Innovation Lab studied the cell phone data from dozens of cities. Researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Toronto analyzed changes in cell phone use before and throughout the pandemic, dating back to 2019. (Data: Recovery Rankings (downtownrecovery.com))

It showed Baltimore at 95% pre-pandemic activity during the Fall of 2022, which is between September and November.

“We know that once people come to Baltimore—and there’s research to prove it—they fall in love with it. And, so part of it is getting them here,” Downtown Partnership President Shelonda Stokes said. “If you look at our eds, our meds, and our feds, that’s where we’re strong.”

Stokes points to a diversified job market downtown, with a variety of hospitals, schools, and government jobs, many of which rely on in-person work. She says events bring back people who may not live or work downtown.

“When they’re here, we want to give them an experience, to come out and go to the restaurant and the ecosystem—take in a show and all of those things to help feed the economy,” Stokes said.

Visitors in town last month for the CIAA basketball tournament told WJZ their first impression with Baltimore was not favorable, citing the city’s vacant housing crisis.

“There’s so many abandoned houses,” Shaw said. “So, when you come downtown around the university and everything, it might be a ray of hope.”

Stokes said Baltimore’s narrative of crime and blight is tough to counter, but its downtown assets are unrivaled.

“There is no thriving city in America with a failing downtown,” Stokes said, paraphrasing Gov. Wes Moore. “We know Baltimore City is the economic engine for the state of Maryland.”

Downtown Partnership officials say public safety will be critical in attracting and bringing people back to Baltimore.

“There’s no story where we’ll talk about now at Downtown Partnership that security is not going to be part of our narrative,” Stokes said.