Maine tourism spending continues to break records, according to the Maine Innkeepers and Maine Restaurant associations that monitor annual revenue receipts.
Steve Hewins, the associations’ CEO, says the restaurant and lodging sectors brought in a combined $3.8 billion in revenue last year, when about 36 million tourists visited Maine.
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“It proves Maine’s desirability as a destination,” he says. “It continues to be a place people want to come to and visitors are attracted to Maine. So we haven’t left the front pages or the Top 10 lists and that sort of thing. But a lot of the growth too is partly driven by, at least on the hotel side, it would be new motels that have opened adding to the room stock that’s available.”
Hewins says the increased tourism demand highlights Maine’s ongoing struggle to find enough workers for the hospitality industry.
“We need to educate and steer more young students into the industry through the community college network and the state’s university system as well to prepare them to be able to successful in the industry, which has excellent career potential as well,” he says. “I think if you talk to hotel general managers, probably three-quarters of them started at entry-level positions in a hotel and eventually worked their way to positions to the top.”
Hewins says higher room prices have contributed to the total hospitality revenue figures. He says the $3.8 billion in revenue represents a year-to-year increase of about 4.5 percent over 2016.