Maine Tourism Association expects a busy summer season

Published: May. 7, 2022 at 8:13 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - Maine Tourism Association released a survey Tuesday that showed increasing optimism about the summer season amongst local business owners.

Maine Tourism Association released a survey Tuesday that showed increasing optimism about the summer season amongst local business owners.

“This will be the first year since the pandemic that we’ll have the Canadian border back opened,” said Maine Tourism Association CEO Tony Cameron. “We’ll have the cruise ship segment back, the wedding industry, of course, is going crazy, so there’s a lot to look forward to.”

The MTA surveyed its members in January to see how local business owners thought spring and summer 2022 would compare to a normal, pre-COVID-19 year.

At that time, 23% of people surveyed said they expected this spring to be more lucrative than 2019. Now that the season is underway, those owners have grown more optimistic — 52% of respondents said they expect this spring to be better than a “normal” season.

“2019 was a good summer, ‘20 was the worst, ‘21 was good and I’m hoping to do as well as we did last year,” said Paul Golzbein, the owner of The Old Orchard Beach Pier.

Sixty percent of respondents said they expect summer 2022 to be better than summer 2019. Loosened COVID-19 restrictions could be a factor, but a lot of the optimism stems from the fact that hiring staff members has gotten slightly easier.

Many Maine employers facing worker shortages were forced to reduce their hours of operation.

“Last year, we left revenue on the table because we weren’t able to service all the people who wanted to come and that’s exactly what’s going to happen this year,” Cameron said.

According to the MTA, 50% of the people surveyed in January said they thought they’d have to reduce their spring hours. During the recent survey, that’s decreased to 26%, so many of those employees found that they were actually able to maintain their typical schedule.

Golzbein said he’s already seeing more job applications for The Pier than he has in the past two years. He expects to have an easier time filling those roles.

In addition to staffing struggles, some business owners are concerned that inflation and rising gas prices could cause a decrease in consumer spending.

Many are optimistic nonetheless.

Golzbein says he’s confident that patrons will come even if they’re sticking to a tighter budget.

“Depression, or recession — it’s not to say it’s recession or depression-proof — but people come to Old Orchard,” Golzbein said. “How much money they have in their pocket is another story.”

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