Maine Campground Reservations Up 10%
High gas prices haven’t negatively affected Maine’s $7.7 billion tourism industry before and likely won’t this year, according to the Maine Office of Tourism.
“We’re primarily a drive market,” Carolann Ouellette, director of the Maine Office of Tourism, told the Bangor Daily News. "We are a short distance away for a lot of potential vacationers who are looking forward to getting away this year, she said. “Airline traffic will probably be down and people will probably turn to more driving, which for Maine is great.”
“With the Canadian dollar being what it is, we’re seeing a tremendous amount of Canadian visitors,” said Greg Dugal, executive director of Maine Innkeepers Association. “Look at the parking lot at the Bangor Mall — you don’t have to look farther than that to see the license plates from New Brunswick. It’s a great deal for them.”
“Canadian traffic is very strong for our industry because their gas prices are over $5. Coming to Maine is a treat for them,” said Richard Abare.
And if there is one guy who watches gas prices, it’s Abare, who is executive director of the Maine Campground Owners Association.
So far, the association’s more than 200 campground members are saying early reservations are up more than 10% over last year. This is especially significant because 2010 was 10% over 2009.
“This year the RV industry is doing very well even with the gas prices,” Abare said. “Many of my members are telling me they are completely booked for Memorial Day weekend now, which is very good news.”
Jensen Bissell, the Baxter State Park director, said on Thursday that several of Baxter’s campgrounds were nearly booked full for the holiday weekend too.
About 35 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from their homes for Memorial Day this year, AAA told The Associated Press last week. This represents an increase of 100,000 travelers from last year, but AAA also predicts those families will spend less, about $700 on their holidays this year, down about $100 from last year.
“Some folks who didn’t come four years ago [when gas prices were high], some of those people are saying, ‘Heck it isn’t so bad, let’s go anyway.’ They’ve had time to do the math and realize they’re paying a third more, $4 and not $3, but when you calculate how many miles you get to the gallon, it doesn’t add so much of an expense to your trip to make you stay home.”