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New Study Confirms National Aquarium’s Continued Positive Economic Impact


(BALTIMORE)—A new study, released today, reveals the National Aquarium continues to be a driving force and economic anchor for Baltimore City and the State of Maryland. The economic impact study conducted by Sage Policy Group, Inc. (Sage) notes the Aquarium annually generates close to $455 million in economic activity across the state and more than 4,500 job 

The report details several important statistical results and key findings regarding the Aquarium’s economic and fiscal impact in the region, which include:

  • In Baltimore City alone, the Aquarium generates more than $360 million in annual economic activity and approximately 3,900 jobs.
  • The Aquarium supports more than $9 million in annual tax revenue for the City of Baltimore and more than $20 million for the State of Maryland. 
  • The Aquarium supports nearly $455 million in business sales statewide, of which nearly 80 percent impacts Baltimore City enterprises. 
  • In 2016, the Aquarium welcomed over 1.3 million guests. Roughly five in six visitors to the Aquarium come from outside the Baltimore region and nearly 90 percent of Aquarium visitors report that the Aquarium is their primary reason for visiting Baltimore.
  • Nearly one-third of Aquarium visitors stay overnight in the area and spend more than $155 million a year on transportation, lodging, shopping and dining. 

“The National Aquarium is an important pillar for our state’s economy, supporting jobs, tourism and revenue,” said Mike Gill, Secretary, Maryland Department of Commerce. 

In addition to the economic impacts associated with its operations, the Aquarium is further expanding its commitment to the City of Baltimore through its BLUEprint master plan and large-scale capital investment projects.  This includes the Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center (ACRC,) currently under development in Baltimore’s historic Jonestown neighborhood. Scheduled to open in 2018, this facility will provide a permanent headquarters for animal quarantine, animal rescue and exhibit fabrication operations, as well as provide unique opportunities for guests to view this behind-the-scenes aspect of the Aquarium’s work. The investment will support approximately 160 Baltimore City jobs and more than $9 million in employee compensation, as well as provide an additional $280,000 in Baltimore City tax revenues and nearly $800,000 in State tax revenues over the life of the project. 

“The National Aquarium’s economic activity supports almost 4,000 jobs in Baltimore and their environmental literacy initiatives engage thousands of students each year,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. 

“We are proud to be a longstanding economic driver for the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, expanding our ability to strengthen communities and inspire conservation,” said John Racanelli, National Aquarium president and chief executive officer. “Our goal is to serve as a key resource for our region and state, providing engaging guest experiences, valuable educational programs and meaningful conservation initiatives.”  

While the Aquarium’s economic and fiscal impacts are significant, the report also demonstrates the organization’s notable contributions to the local community through conservation and education-focused programs. In 2016 alone, the Aquarium hosted more than 67,000 students, teachers and chaperones free of charge while also offering residents reduced or free admission through its six community access programs. These programs welcomed 100,000 residents in 2016, including 10,000 parents and children who participated in the Aquarium’s newly implemented Read to Reef Book Club. The Aquarium’s community conservation programs empower residents throughout the region to make a difference through stream and shoreline cleanups and habitat restoration projects right in their backyards. 

For more on the National Aquarium Economic Impact Study compiled by Sage, visit


To quantify economic impacts, Sage uses IMPLAN economic modeling software and its embodied multipliers to generate estimates of employment, employee compensation, and output. Calculated employment impacts include both full- and part-time workers. Results are presented in the form of full-time equivalents (FTE), meaning that one job is the equivalent of one year of full-time employment. Labor income encompasses all forms of employment income including employee compensation (wages and benefits) and proprietor income (earnings of business owners). Output represents the sum of business sales (good and services) that occur as a result of the National Aquarium’s activities, including operational activities, those related to capital expenditures, and those related to visitor spending.

To conduct the fiscal portion of the analysis, Sage accessed publicly available information including government-published tax rates and budgetary information. Some fiscal impacts were created implicitly within IMPLAN, which incorporates community-specific tax rates.