BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland has been called "America in Miniature" because of the state history and natural resources.
Gigi Barnett breaks down new numbers showing how more tourists are choosing Maryland for their vacation destination.
Maryland has Ocean City, the mountains and the Inner Harbor. For visitors, there's a slew of reasons to stop by.
"It's very historical. Hospitality's been great," said South Carolina resident Jennifer Kolb.
"There's so much history here. I taught school," said South Carolina resident Faye Powell. "Fort McHenry. Star-Spangled Banner. You know, we've sung it through the years. It's great to see the historical part here."
New numbers released this week show the Old Line State's popularity is growing. Last year, more than 36 million tourists visited Maryland. They're having fun and leaving their cash behind.
"Visitors left $15 billion in Maryland in 2012. That generated over $2 billion in state and local revenues," said Maryland Office of Tourism Executive Director Margot Amelia.
The Dammon family has a goal to visit all 50 states before their daughters graduate high school. Their first stop in Maryland was Fort McHenry.
"It was neat to see where the first flag flew," said Cindy Dammon.
Over the last seven years, tourism companies have seen the biggest boost in guests. Since 2007, Maryland has had a 33 percent jump. Here's why:
"We have done a really good job in changing out our marketing, really focusing our efforts on some key markets like Philly, D.C. and Baltimore itself," Amelia said.
Maryland's new tourism numbers also show that it is outpacing the rest of the country when it comes to visitors. While Maryland saw a 33 percent jump in tourism, the rest of the nation only saw a 17 percent increase.
Many small businesses are connected to the tourism industry. The boost in tourism created more than 135,000 jobs across the state.
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