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March 16, 2021

With summer approaching, Maine tourism businesses are cautiously optimistic

A Maine beach scene, with beach roses in the forefront, a rocky beach with a variety of people swimming or standing on the beach, and the Fort Williams ruins on a rocky outcropping in the background File Photo / Maureen Milliken Summer beach-goers enjoy Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth in this pre-pandemic photo.

It could be a while before Maine’s tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic activity, but a new survey shows businesses are at least bullish on the prospects for the coming summer season.

The Maine Tourism Association on Tuesday released results of a member survey that found 69% of respondents were optimistic that businesses will do significantly better than last year, and 67% said their businesses are now in the process of recovering.

However, businesses that take reservations said those reservations are still far from pre-pandemic numbers. Only 35% said their reservations for the spring and summer were close to what they were in 2019. For 36% of the respondents, reservations have been between one-quarter and three-quarters of 2019 levels.

A large majority of respondents, 74%, said most potential visitors were asking about vaccination, quarantine and testing requirements to visit Maine. Some 18% of visitors were asking about capacity and service limitations at businesses and attractions they planned to visit, and only 8% asked about cleaning, safety and health protocols.

When asked about the biggest factor affecting their decisions on staffing, start dates and other seasonal planning, the survey respondents indicated the following:

  • General economic uncertainty and the potential for cancellations, 34% 
  • Uncertainty about travel restrictions for visitors from different states, 28% 
  • Limited capacity for customers or guests, 24%
  • Lack of operating funds because of last year, 15%.

“It is good to see such positive attitudes about the coming season,” the tourism association’s CEO, Tony Cameron, said in a news release. “We need a strong recovery and this is going to be a critical year for the long-term health of Maine’s tourism industry.

“When tourism is strong, more Maine people are put to work, and businesses buy more local products and services so Maine’s farmers, fishermen, operators of wineries and breweries, contractors, landscapers, and others benefit.”

The Maine Tourism Association is the state’s largest advocacy organization for tourism-related businesses, with over 1,600 members. Incorporated in 1922, MTA represents businesses include lodging, restaurants, camps, campgrounds, retail, outdoor recreation, guides, tour operators, amusements, and cultural and historical attractions. 

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