After two consecutive years of breaking visitor records at Maine state parks, and in recent years of breaking attendance records at Acadia National Park, officials believe the state must have a plan to ensure a balance between the “visit” and the “resident way of life”. .”
To do this, the Maine Office of Tourism will, for the first time, create what it calls a “destination management plan.”
According to Hannah Collins, assistant director of MOT, which is a division of Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, two goals of the plan are to “match people with the right places they want to visit” and to help visitors to explore Maine “in the right way to protect our natural resources.”
In some cases, Collins says, that will mean more concerted efforts by the MOT to encourage people to work with trained guides when trying risky activities like strenuous hikes or ice climbing in areas. with which they are unfamiliar.
This would promote safety and prevent rural emergency service providers from being overburdened.
For example, Acadia National Park staff said they handled an unprecedented number of emergency calls on July 5, 2019, when the park also broke a record for single-day visits.
In other cases, Collins says the destination plan might require targeted marketing efforts aimed at luring visitors away from a crowded area to an area that could use a boost in business.
“Maybe there’s another comparable destination,” Collins said during a Friday interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston, adding that she thinks there are “many places in Maine that are underserved.” visited”.
To create its plan, the MOT will begin conducting online surveys of businesses, Maine residents and others, with the surveys scheduled to launch closer to April.
It will also hold a series of town hall meetings and conduct various other assessments with the hope of having a final plan prepared by November.
“It impacts my daily life,” said Kathryn Renna of Cumberland, explaining that her commute time to and from Portland doubles in the summer because of visitors.
Renna was happy to hear that the state was addressing the overcrowding issue, as she and her family members wondered if there might be a solution to the crowds of pedestrians that can rumble through traffic in the old port of Portland in Maine. high tourist season.
“There’s not a lot of space,” she said.
Others who live in Maine, like a Bath woman named Beverly, told NECN and NBC10 Boston that she thought the state’s plan was well-intentioned, but she thinks it could take a lot longer. than the months currently allotted for it to succeed.
She was also concerned that visitors to Maine didn’t like being pressured into visiting a particular place in the state.
“It’s like herding cattle,” she said. “I would be insulted if I was a tourist.”
However, Beverly and Renna believe that tourism, while sometimes having its downsides, is a vital industry in Maine because of the billions of dollars it brings to the state each year.
“It’s such a driver of our economy,” Renna said.