There are many possible directions that can be taken in Crisfield’s revitalization process. What’s been proposed here is to focus on creating a specific tourism industry, by establishing a major attraction, and then rebuilding Crisfield around the traffic generated from the major attraction.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to strongly consider establishing a major attraction first – or at least acquire guaranteed funding, finalize design, etc. – before moving forward on to other initiatives. Investors and entrepreneurs are in business to make money, and Crisfield – currently – does not offer favorable conditions to achieve this. If a facilitator to generate traffic is not produced, it’s likely that Crisfield will never gain a position of advantage and any offers made by developers will reflect Crisfield’s position, and without something to jumpstart economic activity, progress will likely be stagnant.
There are many initial steps that can be taken, below are a few recommendations.
GUAGE PUBLIC INTEREST:
I will be sending this out through email, social media and other formats. I’m willing to participate in public discussions, etc to assist in ensuring that everyone is informed of what this strategy entails.
General Observations & Recommendations:
There are countless subjects, most of which have not been addressed here, that may possibly improve Crisfield’s economic situation. To reiterate, I am in no way trying to criticize the efforts of others or telling people how to do their jobs. What’s below, as is everything contained within this report, are only suggestions and recommendations.
➢ Leadership – Tourism, as an industry, is unique to many others because it requires strong working relationships between government entities, community groups, existing businesses, property owners, potential investors, local citizens and numerous other stakeholders.
Crisfield’s Municipal Government (CMG), may be the only entity that has the authority to successfully lead a tourism industry in Crisfield. Many feel that CMG could/should be doing more to help increase tourism. On the other hand, in 2019 I had a personal conversation with an elected official who directly stated that municipal governments aren’t designed to be involved with economic/commercial affairs. To this, we should look at the binding document of Crisfield, the city’s charter.
Article 4, Section C4-1, Subsection B of Crisfield’s City Charter is titled: “Specific Powers.” Number 12 of this subsection is titled: “Community Services.” It reads as follows:
“To provide, maintain and operate community and social services for the preservation and promotion of the health, recreation, welfare and enlightenment of the inhabitants of he city.”
The key word above is ‘welfare.’ It’s use here is not pertaining to financial government assistance as it’s most commonly used in current times, for I believe that this section of Crisfield’s city charter was written long before any government engaged in this practice. It’s meaning here is much different, with the traditional definition of welfare being pertinent.
Oxford Dictionary defines ‘welfare’ as follows: “the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group.”
The key word here is ‘fortunes.’ So according to Crisfield’s City Charter, a specific power of CMG is the preservation and promotion of the ‘fortunes’ of its inhabitants.
I will also add that preserving and promoting the fortunes of Crisfielders is not only a specific power of CMG, but is among their most important duties and if things don’t soon change, there will be no city to govern.
There are numerous actions that can be taken by CMG, but if Crisfield looks to what many successful existing tourist towns have done, it will strongly consider establishing a new department within CMG, specifically, a ‘Department of Tourism.’
➢ Data Collection – One of the greatest tools to expanding tourism based economic activity is information. It’s essential to have as much knowledge as possible about who are coming, when, why they’re coming, what they spend money on, etc.
Efforts should be made to acquire the emails of people visiting Crisfield to inform and update them on upcoming events, TSA&SAs, etc. Every event should have a raffle, when someone purchases a ticket they will be required to provide an email in case they’re not present when the winner is chosen. The raffle entry form will have a disclaimer that they will receive periodic emails updating them on Crisfield’s tourism activities and events, but they can unsubscribe at anytime. If the emails are interesting and well produced, few will unsubscribe.
➢ Internet Presence – I encourage everyone to google ‘Crisfield Maryland’ – look at the top results – and then do the same with places like Ocean City, Berlin, Snow Hill, Chincoteague, VA Beach, etc. After doing this, ask yourself which place you would choose to visit. It’s likely that it wouldn’t be Crisfield.
It’s crucial to understand the attention-span/interests of the people who are using the internet to choose a place to visit. Most people view, and make a decision based upon, the first website in the search results.
The top results for Crisfield are not tourism based, none of them are ‘mobile-friendly’ and makes the text difficult to read on a phone.
Point being. whenever anyone searches Crisfield on the internet, the top results should be websites that not only provides links for things to do in Crisfield now, but also – and more importantly – that Crisfield is a city on a mission to revive itself, and has a definitive plan to achieve it.
➢ Public Relations – Something that may help with the overall revitalization process is to create, and implement, a strategy that provides regular updates to the local community and stakeholders.
Over the past few years there have been numerous public-meetings that became very heated which resulted in an increased division between members of the community and CMG. The effects of these encounters are entirely negative, and incidentally, it’s likely that these situations will continue if the current course of action continues.
Make no mistake about it, Crisfield’s revitalization will require strong public-support, which will be very difficult to obtain – and virtually impossible to sustain – without the public being well-informed at every step.
An upgraded, and regularly updated, website is the first step. However, there still has to be a method to personally convey Crisfield’s conditions, plans, etc. to the public. Moreover, the only entity that can do the above is Crisfield’s City Government, and the mayor is ultimately the person who the public perceives as the ‘captain of the ship.’ Considering this, the most effective person to relay information to the public is the mayor.
There are many methods to execute public relation initiatives, though social media platforms arguably offers the greatest exposure potential, and is undoubtedly the most cost effective. In my opinion, a monthly published 10-15 minute video of the mayor informing the public would have the greatest impact.
I have a significant amount of additional information on this subject that’s not included in this report.