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Maine hospitality industry hoping to bounce back this year

Hotels in many tourist destinations booked through summer and into fall

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Maine's tourism industry saw a nearly 30-percent drop in business in 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

But with as businesses reopen, some believe 2021 could be a record year for visitors to Maine ... if they can find a place to stay.

Matt Lewis, CEO of Hospitality Maine, said hotels and motels in places like Bar Harbor and Ogunquit basically have no vacancies. In fact, they're pretty much booked until the fall. But it's not like that everywhere. He said other parts of the state still have room.

"Average rates and occupancy have gone up but there are still parts of the state that would absolutely welcome visitors," Lewis said.

While traditional tourists spots are sold out, the midcoast, western Maine and even Portland still have quite a few hotel openings.

Lewis said between high vaccination rates, and Governor Janet Mills' relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and ending the state of civil emergency, things appear to be looking up.

"That's had a huge effect in some of these bookings," he said.

One business that is booked almost straight through to autumn is the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth.

"I've been at the inn for 20 years this is the first time I have seen the inn be as busy and booked out since I've been here," marketing manager Rauni Kew said.

She added that the inn was shut down for a few months, like many businesses at the start of the pandemic. Business was slow when they re-opened, but she expects it to be a good year.

"I think this is going to be a banner year for everyone in Maine and I think we can all make up for the losses," Kew said.

Lewis and Kew said that this will be a great year for Maine, and they are hopeful that this momentum will not just carry the hospitality industry through the summer, but through the fall as well.

"It's just so far been terrific and it looks as if it's going to continue from the booking," Kew said.