- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2005

Twenty-one million tourists visited Maryland last year, 1 million more than in 2003, according to figures released by the state’s tourism office last week.

The tourism industry brought $10.1 billion to Maryland in 2004, hitting the state’s goal of $10 billion a year early.

“When [tourists] come, they’re going to spend money in hotels, restaurants, taxicabs, rental cars, food, drinks — everything,” said Karen Glenn, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The $10.1 billion is an 8 percent increase from 2003, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism’s study, compiled by the Travel Industry Association of America.

In comparison, 36 million tourists visited Virginia in 2004 and spent $15.3 billion in the state. The District hosted 18.8 million visitors last year.

Domestic travelers spent $9.7 million in Maryland, an 8 percent increase from 2003. International travelers spent $342,000, a 7 percent increase.

Visitors spent most of their money — $2.5 billion — on food, including restaurants and grocery stores.

The Department of Business and Economic Development attributed the increase in visitors to the improved economy and the agency’s tourism campaign, which featured Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. doing household chores in other people’s homes so they had time to vacation in Maryland.

Herndon gets healthy

Robeks Fruit Smoothies & Healthy Eats, a fast-food and health-conscious restaurant chain, opened a store on Rockville Pike Saturday and is scheduled to open a Herndon location Thursday.

Robeks’ menu includes made-to-order smoothies, fruit and vegetable juices, salads, sandwiches, high-protein baked goods and nutritional supplements. The store also serves green tea shots and organic wheat-grass shots.

“It’s good for people looking for a quick breakfast or lunch during the week, but also families and communities,” said Adam Perel, Robeks’ D.C.-area developer.

The nine-year-old chain has 81 locations — including one on L Street NW in the District, one on Solomon’s Island Road in Annapolis and many in California.

Herndon franchisees Dave and Leslie Hutchinson chose to open a Robeks because of its healthy menu and atmosphere, which features bright colors and vibrant music.

“We’re always looking for something nutritious [for our children] and something that won’t be too hard to get them to partake in,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “When we visited the store downtown, we liked what they had and my sons enjoyed it.”

Wheaton mall expanded

Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton marked the end of its two-year, $140 million expansion yesterday.

The project includes the first Macy’s store in Montgomery County, a new food court and 80 stores, including Cache, Anne Taylor Loft and the Body Shop.

The expansion makes the mall and its 1.44 million square feet the largest shopping center in the county, surpassing Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery’s 1.25 million square feet.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com.

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