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Business leaders anticipate recovery for Maine's industries hardest hit during pandemic

With vaccinations on the rise and signs of a more open tourism season, businesses are beginning to hire in anticipation of a more successful spring and summer.

MAINE, USA — After Maine's tourism season was plundered as a result of the pandemic, business leaders are anticipating a revival in 2021.

"We think people are looking for those outdoor destinations," said Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Director Heather Johnson. "Maine as a brand, and Maine over the last year, has proven that we have those assets." 

Johnson says DECD data shows a 29% drop in restaurant sales across the state from March 2020 through January 2021. Johnson adds in that same time period, the state's lodging industry saw a 37% drop in sales. 

"We are seeing already, jobs becoming available. People being able to get back to work. So we're seeing progress," said Johnson. 

According to a new survey from the Maine Tourism Association, 69% of responding businesses were optimistic that tourism in Maine will do significantly better this year than last and will start to recover from the pandemic.

"We're not through it yet. But we're definitely making progress. People are feeling better and those are very vital steps along with the vaccine," said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors. 

Connors notes the crucial role federal relief played for businesses being able to survive the pandemic. He views additional relief from the state and federal government as essential for business recovery. 

"Without a strong tourism season and without the continued help of those programs that address their needs, yes it would be very difficult to have two years in a row," said Connors. 

Maine is also beginning to see growth ahead of revenue projections so far. According to a report from the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, General Fund revenues exceeded predictions of the Revenue Forecasting Committee by $154.3 million or 6.6 percent for the first seven months of the fiscal year.