MAINE, Maine — Editors note: The video above aired May 31, 2021.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant and hotel sales in Maine spiked this year.
According to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, restaurant and lodging sales reached $2.3 billion between May and August, a roughly 12% increase over 2019.
"We weren’t surprised. We had heard from lots of communities that they had seen a real influx of people,” said Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic Community Development.
Matt Lewis, president, and CEO of HospitalityMaine, said that while the boom should be celebrated, it came with a cost.
"With the labor costs and labor challenges, we heard hotel after hotel after hotel tell us they normally have 25 hotel staff and now they are down to 17," he said.
Lewis predicts the labor shortage and other challenges that come along with it will continue for the next few years.
Both Lewis and Johnson said they are not surprised by the increase in sales, because they heard and saw how busy Maine was all summer.