Study Reinforces National Aquarium as Key Economic Driver for Baltimore City, State of Maryland and District of Columbia


National Aquarium continues to be a major economic force for the Baltimore City, the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia, supporting $319.6 million in annual economic impact and 3,347 jobs as evidenced in a 2012 economic impact study conducted by Sage Policy Group, Inc. (Sage) that was released today.

The Aquarium commissioned Sage to measure the nonprofit organization’s economic impact on the region to include both the Baltimore and Washington, DC venues. The assessment of that study includes major statistical findings, key analyses and the following essential economic indicators about the Aquarium’s effect on the region:
  • The Aquarium supports substantial employment (3,347 jobs) and economic impacts ($319.6 million) annually for the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia; 
  • Collectively, the Aquarium supports $17.9 million in fiscal impact for the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
  • Together, both venues attract more than 1.5 million visitors each year; and
  • Operational expenditures at both venues have expanded to more than $50 million per annum.

“This study demonstrates that the National Aquarium continues to be a driving force for our State’s economic engine by generating vital revenue for our region and supporting jobs for our families,” said Governor O’Malley.

“We are proud of our role in sustaining the economic vitality of the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and its surrounding communities – positively impacting employment, visitation and spending in our region,” said John Racanelli, CEO of National Aquarium. "We may have a reach that spans the nation and world, but our roots are right here in Maryland. We will continue to invest in our local communities fulfill our commitment to inspiring conservation of the world's aquatic treasures right here in our backyard."

The Sage study also concludes that operations and visitor spending produce large regional economic impacts. Statewide, the Aquarium supports 3,300 jobs, nearly $127 million in annual employee compensation and has an annual economic impact of $314 million. In Baltimore City alone, the Aquarium supports more than 2,900 jobs, total employee compensation approaching $118 million, and has an annual economic impact of nearly $272 million.

National Aquarium’s Baltimore venue attracts more than 1.3 million visitors each year and is the number one paid tourist destination in the city. The report estimates that visitors to the Baltimore location spend nearly $205 million per year on lodging, transportation, food, shopping, gas and recreation and that approximately 88.14 percent of visitors claimed it was the primary reason for their visit to the city. Nearly one out of every three (31.3 percent) visitors to National Aquarium, Baltimore stay overnight in the region, providing

further impact on local hotels and restaurants.

In the District of Columbia, the updated facility supports 43 jobs associated with annual employee compensation of $2.1 million per annum and local business sales of $5.6 million, according to the study. The study team estimates that visitors to National Aquarium, Washington, DC spend more than $3 million per year on lodging, transportation, food, shopping, gas and recreation.

"More than 30 years ago, National Aquarium changed Baltimore by bringing an incredible attraction to the city and opening its doors to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who come to Baltimore City," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "Along with the hundreds of jobs created and maintained as well as the millions of dollars going back into the city, National Aquarium is an institution that has helped the city grow and thrive"

The Aquarium’s economic contributions produce positive fiscal impacts, supporting $17.9 million in fiscal impact for the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia. In the City of Baltimore, Aquarium operations support nearly $6 million in annual tax revenues. The State of Maryland receives $11.7 million in annual tax revenues from the Aquarium. The Aquarium supports $0.3 million in fiscal impact in Washington, DC.

“The Aquarium is a major anchor of the city’s iconic waterfront and is a vitally important piece of Baltimore and Maryland,” said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. “It not only generates economic impacts, but also enhances our quality of life by celebrating our connection to the Bay and the sea, which makes Maryland a special place to live.”

In addition to economic and fiscal impacts, the Aquarium has made measurable contributions to the region through education and environment impacts. The Aquarium hosts tens of thousands of Maryland students each year, providing young people with insights into the nature of sensitive ecosystems, their personal environmental impacts, and key ways to mitigate these effects. The Aquarium also provides facilities to support cutting edge research—the type of research that will be of enormous importance as Marylanders and others continue to work to improve the conditions of the Chesapeake Bay.

“Among other things, successful communities offer attractive, signature gathering spots. These places draw people from near and far, generating substantial economic and fiscal impacts in the process,” said Anirban Basu, Sage Policy Group Chairman/CEO. “Our research indicates that few institutions in Baltimore enjoy the appeal and generate the impact of the National Aquarium.”

To view the National Aquarium economic impact study assessment in its entirety compiled by Sage, visit

To quantify economic impacts, Sage utilized Baltimore City, Washington, DC, and Maryland-specific IMPLAN multipliers to generate estimates of employment, income, and output. Calculated employment impacts include both full and part-time workers. The study team has also calculated employment contributions in the form of full-time equivalents (FTE). Labor income is defined as encompassing all forms of employment income including employee compensation (wages and benefits) and proprietor income (earnings of business owners). Output represents the sum total of value-added contributions. This is captured in the form of business sales that take place due to National Aquarium operating expenditures, associated visitor spending, and secondary impacts produced by the businesses and workers that are directly related to Aquarium operations.

To conduct the fiscal portion of the analysis, Sage relied heavily upon publicly available information including government-published tax rates and budgetary information. As with economic impacts, fiscal impacts have been calculated for the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia.




National Aquarium - Grade A Student Night

Educating our Advocates

By Inspiring Young People,

we provide exceptional educational opportunities for Maryland’s youth. Field trips bring classroom lessons to life, while internships, work-study programs, and scholarships offer students real-world experience for future careers.

National Aquarium - Cultural Series

Engaging Our Community

Diversity in Nature and in Our Community

is celebrated at the Aquarium. High-tech and high-touch services reveal the aquatic world to those with special needs, while a myriad of cultural experiences showcase Maryland’s rich ethnic heritage.

Special Needs and Cultural Programs

Braille Scripts

Deaf Awareness Day

Early Entry Days

Assisted Listening Devices

Audio Wireless Tour

Touch Bag/Hands-on Experiences

Latino Heritage Celebration

World Holiday Traditions Celebration

Native Cultures Celebration

Asian-Pacific Heritage Celebration

Black History Celebration

Women’s History Celebration

Maryland Flag

Both Within and Beyond Our Walls

For three decades, the National Aquarium has been a symbol of urban renewal, an economic anchor for the region, and a source of pride for Marylanders.

Maryland Statistics

Each year the National Aquarium has an overall economic impact of $314 million.

  • Employs 590 full and part time employees
  • Attracts 1.4 million visitors annually
  • Engages 850 volunteers, contributing 119,000 hours annually
  • Conservation Numbers

  • Each year, the National Aquarium mobilizes over 3500 conservation volunteers
  • Diverts 136,000 pounds of Aquarium waste from landfills through internal conservation efforts
  • Plants 132,000 native plants, grasses, and trees in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
  • Remove 35,000 pieces of debris from area wetlands and parks
  • Education Numbers

  • Over 60,000 Maryland students visit annually from all 23 counties and Baltimore City
  • Engages over 600 Maryland teachers in workshops
  • Over 3,500 Maryland students participate in National Aquarium classroom programs at their schools
  • Community Numbers

  • The Aquarium donates 1,000 tickets annually to community organizations
  • Over 1,400 students and family members enter for free with their "A" report cards on "Grade A Student Nights" annually
  • 13,500 people toured the National Aquarium for just $1 during the annual Dollar Days promotion
  • 50,000 people enjoy Baltimore’s Fridays after Five promotion each year
  • National Aquarium - Animal Rescue Release

    In the Lab and in Your "Backyard,"

    we help preserve Maryland's precious natural resources, from mountain streams to coastal shores. Our scientists study and rehabilitate native species in the wild, while our grassroots conservation efforts teach volunteers to save the Bay —one tidal wetland and stranded sea turtle at a time.