MAINE, USA — Memorial Day Weekend typically marks the start of the influx of tourists to the Pine Tree State. This year, the Maine Office of Tourism is expecting another strong year of travelers looking to spend their time off this summer here in Maine.
Hope Eye, an employee at The Rock and Art Shop in Bangor, said the store has hired more workers to keep up with the number of customers coming in.
"We're expecting one of the busiest summers that we've ever seen since the beginning of the pandemic," Eye said.
She added the customers coming in aren't just passing through town on their way to another destination.
"Since the 90's you've heard people passing through Bangor, 'oh we're here for a night...' 'oh we're here for two nights,' but now, people come in saying, 'oh we're here to do so and so in Bangor,' like they have things that they want to do here," Eye said.
Steve Lyons is the Director of the Maine Office of Tourism.
"All reports in at this point are showing that lodging properties are filled up with advanced reservations, campgrounds are filling up very quickly, and just in general we're seeing a lot of interest in coming to maine this year," Lyons said.
Lyons added despite steep gas prices that continue to go up, the Office has seen a lot of interest in Maine from out-of-staters.
"I think a lot of people are thinking about traveling closer to home and that actually is an advantage to Maine because we're in such close proximity to such a huge population base here in the northeastern part of the United States," Lyons said.
The Maine Office of Tourism reports travel to Maine was up last summer by about 2.5% compared to summer 2019. The state also saw more than 10 million visitors, of which 25% were visiting Maine for the first time.
"There's a great variety of things to do here and it's not overly crowded and so I think people are really looking for a place where they can come and really enjoy the local experience," Lyons said.
The "local experience" for some is enjoying the great outdoors, while for others, it's shopping local.
"Tourism season is our second best season after Christmas," Kadence Dow, an employee at Maine Jewelry and Art in downtown Bangor, said.
Dow said the store brings in a lot of people looking for unique Maine gifts who want to shop local, as well as some who are being tourists in their own city.
"It's really a helpful pick me up after the dead post-Christmas season and it really helps bring in the sales and keep the store alive really," Dow said.
If you're planning on taking advantage of the Maine outdoors this summer, click here for some tips on how to be prepared and stay safe.