Maryland’s Heritage Areas are locally designated and State certified regions where public and private partners make commitments to preserving historical, cultural and natural resources for sustainable economic development through heritage tourism. At the local level, Heritage Areas focus community attention on often under-appreciated aspects of history, living culture, and distinctive natural areas, thus fostering a stronger sense of pride in the places where Marylanders live and work. The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) does this through targeted State financial and technical assistance within a limited number of areas designated as “Certified Heritage Areas.”
Each of Maryland’s thirteen Certified Heritage Areas are defined by a distinct focus or theme that makes that place or region different from other areas in the state. These distinctive places exhibit tangible evidence of the area’s heritage in historic buildings and districts, distinctive cultural traditions, singular natural landscapes, as well as other resources such as museums, parks, and traditional ways of life as revealed in food, music, and art. This “special flavor” of each Heritage Area attracts not only out-of-state visitors but locals who are also looking for an experience that is different than “back home.”
The program recognizes that a successful Heritage Area needs to have a viable economy which recognizes the value of the area’s unique heritage resources, and through State, government, and private sector partnerships strive to preserve and enhance the resources that make the area attractive to visitors. By investing public dollars to create tourism-related products, spark matching private investment, and motivate local leadership, MHAA seeks to promote a balanced, sustainable level of heritage tourism that strengthens communities and improves the state’s quality of life.
From: Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (http://mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas_program.html)