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The Nose

Bus a Move

Posted 6/6/2001

Civic patriot that we are, the Nose is loath to complain about our mayor's preferred civic slogan, The Greatest City in America. Who doesn't want to live in the Greatest City in America?

But for all its good--nay, great--intentions, the singing mayor's message has struck the Nose all along as being a little . . . vague. Unsatisfying. We want some specific form of excellence to trumpet. Hence our excitement on receiving a joint press release from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association (BACVA), informing us that Baltimore--our very own city!--"has been named the 'Hottest Up-and-Coming Destination for Groups'" by the American Bus Association (ABA).

Take that, New York and Chicago! Charm City is the buspersons' holiday spot of choice! The key to victory, BACVA tourism-development director Lisa Hansen tells us, was a blitz of hospitality and promotions that the city unleashed on ABA members at the group's convention here in January. Merely hosting the convention, she says, is not usually enough to tip the honor to a particular city. But Baltimore swamped the delegates--including both motor-coach operators and the travel agents who book them--with evidence of our massive bus-tour-destination superiority.

Like all wars, the struggle to become the Hottest Up-and-Coming Destination for Groups was won on the ground, as the locals impressed their guests with the variety of neighborhoods and attractions you can get to after you leave your bus. "They realized how close everything was," Hansen says. "[They] got to experience how walkable it is."

Add in a new (well, circa-1997) bus stop on Light Street, plus a Super Bowl party that wowed the ABA-ers--hey, stealing the Browns really was an economic spark, huh?--and Mobtown was able to dethrone the reigning and six-time-champion Up-and-Comer, Myrtle Beach, S.C. And Myrtle Beach's perennial rival, Branson, Mo., home of the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre. Ain't we proud, hon. Ain't we proud.

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