The Maine Tourism Association (MTA) reports on the state of tourism and surveyed tourism businesses to determine how they fared over Indigenous People’s Day weekend compared to 2019.
Some 36% of businesses responding said they were down over 50% from last year. Of those, 15% were down over 75%. Businesses that lost less than 50% numbered over 25% of respondents. Those with the same amount of business as 2019 accounted for 25%; and those with more businesses accounted for almost 13%. Nearly 6% of respondents said they were unable to open this year.
Different areas of the state tell different stories as well. Many Bar Harbor and Acadia area establishments were nearly full, although capacity for most businesses are reduced. Some areas of Aroostook County are faring well also with a lot of in-state travelers. In addition to Mainers, most travelers are from (in no particular order) Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, with the rest of the New England states making up the bulk of visitors.
A common theme cited by respondents is that staffing shortages continue to be problematic. The lack of H2B and J1 visa workers has hurt lodging properties in particular. Also, the additional COVID protocols and visitors who require more attention due to the COVID regulations and precautions contributes to an increased workload for the lean staff.
“This is just a snapshot in time from one survey but it’s very telling,” CEO Tony Cameron said. “August was a great month by 2020 standards due to the weather and the lifting of travel restrictions on visitors from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This holiday weekend improved business for those few days but it is a long way from normal. The people working in tourism are still struggling greatly.
“We will feel the impact for months, if not years, to come. The effects of being closed in the spring and having such limited capacity and visitors through the summer will catch up. Some businesses are persevering this year but may not be open next year.”
In 2019, the tourism industry in Maine supported over 116,000 workers, generated $9.7 billion in total sales, and brought in nearly $650 million in tax dollars to the state coffers.
Cameron continued, “Tourism is Maine’s largest private industry. Tourism’s recovery is the key to the state’s overall economic recovery.
“The good news is that tourism is resilient. It is one of the few traditional Maine industries still going strong after 200 years of statehood. Tourism will survive and thrive.”
The Maine Tourism Association is the state’s largest tourism association and was incorporated in 1922. MTA represents members statewide that provide traditional tourism interests such as lodging, restaurants, camps and campgrounds, retail establishments, and cultural and heritage attractions. MTA also operates the seven State Visitor Information Centers and produces the state’s official travel planner, Maine Invites You.