HALLOWELL – The Maine Tourism Association recently surveyed its members about July 4th weekend business, visitor trends, and the impact of labor shortages on the business.
According to Chief Executive Officer Tony Cameron, survey members said nearly 40 percent said business was better than a normal year like 2019, while 47 percent said companies were 75-100 percent of normal. Only 5 percent said business was worse than usual on the holiday weekend.
“It is a great relief to see our tourism businesses recover from the huge losses we suffered in 2020,” said Cameron. “Everything indicated early on that this year was going to be a good year for our recovery, and it’s wonderful to see how that plays out. There are challenges, however – the closure of the Canadian border is having a major impact on certain regions of the state and the labor shortage has a huge impact on all aspects of tourism. “
The closure of the Canadian border has had a significant or moderate impact on 33 percent of businesses, according to respondents.
Personnel bottlenecks are still a big issue. 46 percent said they had half or fewer of the employees they needed this summer. This has led to 37 percent of the responding companies reducing operating hours or the weekday and 54 percent reducing their business capacities, such as room or table closings or a reduction in tours or other services. The effects of these changes lead to a loss of sales of up to 25 percent for 70 percent of the respondents; 28 percent expect a revenue loss of 25-50 percent.
“The business surge this summer is great, but we are clearly leaving millions in tourism dollars on the table due to staff shortages. The accommodations are full, but many cannot open all of their rooms without more cleaning staff. Some restaurants are also leaving areas unused due to a lack of kitchen or service staff, ”said Cameron.
New tourism trends that were noted included many companies seeing more Maine travelers than usual, while others said visitor numbers had increased from across the country. It was also found that people stay longer, focus more on outdoor activities, and are less experienced travelers.
Cameron stated that state visitor information center staff are seeing the same trends – a sharp increase in outdoor recreation and new travelers, as well as many people moving to Maine. “This shows that tourism is boosting our entire economy. Promoting Maine is not just about branding ourselves as a vacation destination, it’s about reminding people of the unique quality of Maine life, ”he said.
The Maine Tourism Association is the state’s premier advocate for all tourism-related businesses. Founded in 1922, MTA members include lodging, restaurants, camps, camping, retail, outdoor recreation, guides, tour operators, amusements, and cultural and historical attractions. MTA also operates seven state visitor information centers from Kittery to Calais and annually prepares the state’s official travel planner, Maine invites you.