BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — One of Maine’s busiest tourist towns is hoping to get a little busier, by getting closer to where the people are.
Boothbay Harbor is already a popular tourist destination, but some business owners say it faces a challenge, because the town is more than 12 miles down the peninsula from U.S. Route One, the midcoast’s main highway.
Business owners and Chamber of Commerce leaders call that 12-mile distance "a long driveway". So the Chamber of Commerce is trying to make that driveway more enticing for tourists. They have just opened a Visitor Center right on Route One, close to Wiscasset.
Chamber Executive Director Patricia Royall says the Maine DOT records show six to nine million vehicles pass the visitor center location every year.
"There are a lot of people heading straight north to Bar Harbor or places north, so this is an opportunity to promote our region, the entire midcoast region, and get people to take that driveway and see all the magic at the end of it," Royal said.
Business owners and Chamber members say they think the visitor center will help introduce new people to Boothbay Harbor.
"We’re being discovered I think," says Ramsey Lafayette, regional manager for Lafayette Hotels, which owns four hotels in Boothbay Harbor. "People come for two days, say 'I didn’t see enough' and want to come for an extended stay, which is beautiful -- we love that."
The Visitor Center will be open this weekend and soon will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until the end of December.
The Chamber of Commerce says its hoping the visitor center can help promote the whole midcoast region and be a welcome break for travelers as well.