Craft Beer Tourism Study Overview
The Rural Maryland Council funded a study of craft beer related tourism in FY21. Because of COVID, this research period was extended to December 2021. Shore Craft Beer in conjunction with Salisbury University and the Ocean City Development Corporation worked on the project. The study surveyed over 1500 craft beer drinkers and included data from 5 years of a craft beer festival in Ocean City held every October. Geographic targeted areas from Ocean City were included for comparison and evaluation.
The findings show that
- craft beer drinkers travel,
- they continue to visit breweries despite COVID shut-downs,
- and that holding craft beer related events over time draw from ever expanding regions.
This study illustrates the value of marketing to craft beer drinkers in addition to already defined tourism markets to increase visitation to tourism related businesses including hotels, bars, restaurants, breweries and retail outlets that sell craft beer. While these conclusions are clear, more research should be undertaken to track these trends and confirm the findings.
We have attached the draft report which will be printed for distribution. Copies can be requested by emailing email@example.com. In addition, we have added maps created from data obtained from the survey and from the Octoberfest Shore Craft Beer Fest held every year in Ocean City, MD. This data has no personal identifying information included.
Craft Beer Study: January 2022
Ocean City Targeted Locations for Marketing the Town
The yellow circles represent cities or regions targeted by Ocean City. The larger yellow rings represent 20 miles around each of these targeted geographic entities. The blue dots that appear when you click on the “jellyfish 2021 pre-purchased tickets” represent locations of visitors who bought their tickets in advance for the first annual Jellyfish Festival Beer on the Beach event in 2021. This festival was on Labor Day weekend when the town was crowded and hotels had minimal occupancy. Normally, the Shore Craft Beer Fests are scheduled for weekends with low occupancy so they generate hotel room sales for hotels in Ocean City.
Attendees at the Octoberfest Shore Craft Beer Fest over time
The smallest ring represents a 50 mile radius around Ocean City, a boundary that can define tourists who will likely spend longer and eat more because they are attending a beer fest more than an hour away from their homes. The larger ring represents the 400 mile limit to define a “drive market” for Ocean City, Maryland. Ocean City primarily pulls from this drive market, but the Octoberfest event has pushed the limit on this boundary. It has been conventional wisdom that the markets south of Ocean City would go to Virginia or North Carolina beaches and that does not appear to hold for craft beer drinkers.
There are five years of data, but the general trend appears to show that with each successive year, people attend the beer festival from farther away. More research would need to be done to see if this apparent trend continues, particularly as COVID has less of an effect on travel, but early evidence suggests that the longer an event exists, the larger the geographic pull for visitors.
Breweries on the Eastern Shore
Below you will find the breweries on the Eastern Shore. We will update this list as new breweries open. More information on the breweries is available if you click on each pin. Some locations like Rehoboth Beach have multiple breweries that you won’t see until you zoom on a pin.