County Festivals are a Big Draw for Tourists
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -
Maine has had a reputation as “Vacationland” since before it was even a state, and while the pandemic has slowed tourism, Aroostook Counties many festivals seem to be drawing more and more people from away. NewsSource 8′s Brian Bouchard has the story.
Before the pandemic, an estimated 1.47 million travelers visited Aroostook County according to a 2019 Regional Tourism Impact Study by the Maine Office of Tourism. Throughout the course of the pandemic, the number of people vacationing in general plummeted, which raises the question, how is tourism looking so far this year?
“I’m really optimistic coming out of the pandemic.”
Jacob Pelkey, Tourism Developer for Aroostook County Tourism says even though we’re not back to pre-pandemic tourist numbers, things are looking favorable.
“In terms of what the numbers are, our numbers are going up. When we hit bottom of the pandemic in 2020, our numbers were around 200,000 visitors to Aroostook county, that’s dramatically down. Last year when we measured we were up 38% so we were up about 260,000 visitors to the region, and those numbers are not as high as previous pandemic levels”
Pelkey went on to explain that they measure tourism annually starting in June, so the data regarding tourism over the last winter has not yet been factored in to the total tourism numbers, however, he believes that the many festivals around the region are the county’s biggest draw in the summer time.
“Tourism to Maine’s Aroostook County is looking to be a great season for us, you know we had the return of the festivals since the pandemic and what we’re seeing is that the festivals are coming back with their full schedules. Visitors to Maine’s Aroostook County in the summertime, they’re coming to visit friends and family and to relax, those are the top two reasons to come here, so they’re basing their travel for when they’re going to come to the county based on when the festivals are, so maybe if they know they’re going to come home twice this summer, they might pick to come home once during a festival and once during a family gathering”
Pelkey also said that they’re seeing people that have family camps making multiple visits throughout the summer, which can make a huge impact given approximately 19% of the state’s total housing stock are seasonal camps.
“You also have a portion of our visitors who are coming to their seasonal homes out on the lakes or maybe up to camp and those visitors are coming up to Aroostook more frequently than those who stay in our hotels and campsites, so maybe they are living in the Bangor area or even farther south and coming up multiple times a summer.”
Pelkey says digital marketing, and making information easier for those who are planning a vacation to the county is Aroostook County Tourisms primary focus, as print media lacks the interactivity and connectivity that digital media brings to the table.
Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8
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