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October 10, 2018

Kennebunkport shoulder season expands, to mixed reviews

Courtesy / City of Portland
Courtesy / City of Portland
The Artania was the first cruise ship of the 2018 season to arrive in Portland this year. The city expects a record 118 passenger vessel visits this year from April to November bringing more than 230,000 passengers and crew to the city. A good number of those visitors make a side-trip to Kennebunkport, according to Lynn Tillotson, president and CEO of Visit Portland.

Visitation by tour buses and excursions from cruise ships has expanded the shoulder season in Kennebunkport through the fall.

Seacoastonline.com reported that some businesses benefit from boosted commerce, but noted that other shops simply become crowded by bus and excursion tourists who don't buy much.

Lynn Tillotson, president and CEO of Visit Portland, told Seacoastonline that one of the most popular excursions from ships docked in Portland is Kennebunkport. In 2014, 45,000 cruise ship passengers came ashore for excursions in Portland, 8% went to Kennebunkport and spent an average $105.

The town's status as a Bush family enclave is a draw, Tillotson said. But Kennebunkport Police Chief Craig Sanford said tour bus foot and vehicle traffic can impede sidewalk and road passage.

Maine tourism keepts growing

Other communities are dealing with similar situations, as visitation continues to increase in Maine.

In 2017, over 36 million travelers from the U.S. and Canada visited Maine on tourism-related trips in 2017, an increase in annual visitation of 2.5% over 2016. It was the fifth consecutive year that Maine tourism visitation increased, representing an average of more than 5% growth each year since 2012. May through August remains the strongest season, but Maine is seeing visitation grow in all seasons.

Tourism visitation grew by nearly 11% during the 2017 winter season (December-April), and increased by 3.5% in the 2017 fall season (September-November) over the previous year, following double digit increases in 2015 and 2016.

However, direct tourism spending, which includes retail sales, restaurant and food, lodging, recreation, transportation and gasoline, stayed flat in 2017 — with the $6 billion in direct tourism expenditures reported for the year being only 0.4% higher than that $5.99 billion reported in 2016, according to a Maine Office of Tourism annual report on the economic impact of Maine's tourism industry

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