Aroostook County Tourism Summit Looks At 2021 Impact

Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 10:44 AM EDT
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Aroostook County welcomed over a quarter million visitors to the area in 2021 and The efforts to bring more tourists to the county continues. NewsSource 8′s Brian Bouchard learns more about the work being done to get more tourists to visit the area in the future.

An estimated 286,300 people visited Aroostook County last year according to a new Economic Impact Report released by the Maine Office of Tourism, up 32% percent from 2020. The Report was compiled following 308 on the spot interviews, and contains demographic information, as well as information about how they planned their trip to the county, their reason for visiting, and if they would come back again. This report was the highlight of the Aroostook County Tourism Summit, which seeks to use this data to entice more tourists to visit the county.

“The purpose of today is to bring people together from Aroostook County to talk about tourism. One of the largest industries here in Aroostook. A lot of times it flies under the radar and it’s not recognized.” says Jacob Pelkey – Tourism Developer, Northern Maine Development Commission.

According to the report, visitor spending generated over 218 million dollars in 2021 and supported 2,500 jobs. As for demographics, the median age of visitors is 43 years old, and the majority of visitors were male. 10% of all visitors to Aroostook County were traveling in Maine for the first time, and 99% of visitors said they will likely return to Maine for a vacation in the future.

“When we look at the data and we see that 26 percent of people are coming here based on their friends and families recommendations that is a huge testament to the quality of life we have here, so as locals we’re enticing others to come experience what we have to offer.” says Pelkey.

“The economic impact shows what tourism is doing for the region... ”

Steve Lyons, Director of the Maine Office of Tourism says these economic impact reports highlight the counties strengths in attracting visitors, and also shows areas of where there is potential for growth.

“... and that’s important because people have a lot of different understandings of what industries are most important to the state and which ones are contributing the most money to the economy, and if you can show that through these economic impact studies, you can show that tourism is very strong all over the state.”

While many consider winter activities like snowmobiling to be one of the largest draws of tourists to Aroostook County, only 27% of visitors came to take part in Snow Activities according to the report, which surprised Lyons.

“For Aroostook County, one of the things that stood out to me is when I looked at Taxable Sales Data, I noticed that it was a little heavier in the summer time, and there’s always been this perception that it was a winter destination, and even in some of the numbers that we’re talking about a winter destination, and so to see the numbers up in the summer, that kind of made me question what was going on”

And while reflecting on data can help show what drew visitors to the county, there’s also the discussion of where Aroostook County Tourism goes from here.

“Aroostook county could probably focus on looking at agri-tourism, I think that would be something that would be very important. It’s an area of the state that a lot of people are interested in, but I think it hasn’t been well developed yet, so between that and just, some of the sporting camp experiences that are happening up here in the county are really important, it really gets people out in the wilderness, to really understand what is out there, they’d really like to get to a place where they can bring their family, go swimming, take a hike, and I think that’s going to be really important.”

“We’re seeing a huge boom in interest in our night sky tourism, and we have a solar eclipse in 2024, so we need to plan ahead and look forward to that and kind of build the infrastructure. It’s here for every visitor to experience and it’s something that we can build upon and tell a better story with to educate them as they come up, on what an awesome experience it is.” says Pelkey.

Title of the document

Aroostook County 2021 Economic Impact and Visitor Tracking Report

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