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Bar Harbor dealing with tourism challenges

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine(WABI)
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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BAR HARBOR Maine (WABI) - Maine’s summer tourism season is right around the halfway point and already shaping up to be the busiest on record by far in Bar Harbor.

There have been some challenges to deal with, including staffing and housing.

There was no precedent for how business would be in Bar Harbor last year in the middle of a pandemic. And there’s no precedent for how it will be with more people traveling this summer.

“Never, no. I’ve never seen it the way it is today. It’s really incredible and amazing. People can’t find rooms, you know, traffic has been backed up even more than usual. And we’ve seen record growth over the last decade, but we’ve never seen a year like 2021,” said Tim Rich, The Independent Cafe owner.

“I think with the kind of post-pandemic stuff that’s been going on, people want to get outside, and so we’ve seen a huge rush into town this summer,” said Chris Strout, Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding owner.

For business owners, it’s a tale of back-to-back summers that couldn’t be more opposite.

“Oh, it’s totally different. I mean, last year at this time we had just gotten to this point where we had seen some of the travel restrictions ease up a little bit. This year, the mindset is more, ‘how am I going to do this day to day because we’re so busy,’” Strout said.

Housing and staffing are still issues here, and this summer has only magnified the problem.

“I think everyone here is kind of struggling. Everyone is short staffed. We’re all seeing record numbers of tourists visiting, and it’s a little overwhelming to be honest,” Rich said.

“It’s just exacerbated, yeah. It’s gotten worse this year, to the point where I think people are struggling to figure out how to adjust to that,” Strout said.

“But we also all have a lot of gratitude to the people who come here, and the love of the island and the love of Acadia National Park that they have,” Rich said.

At the halfway point of the season, the business community is urging visitors to plan ahead, and just be patient.

“Understand that there are going to be long waits wherever you go, for hiking or for food. Just roll with it like we’re all trying to roll with it, and we’ll all get through it and have a good time,” Rich said.

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