Summer tourism kicks off in Maine as businesses battle inflation

Tony Cameron, CEO of the Maine Tourism Association, said he expects people to visit Maine this summer, but inflation could affect how much they spend.

PORTLAND, ME — Bright skies and mild temperatures on Memorial Day 2022 have made the streets of downtown Portland hum with a familiar sound. The summer tourist season is back and in full swing, but there are questions about how inflation could affect the future.

The Maine Tourism Authority released a notice last week saying it expects another “strong year” for our state’s tourism and hospitality sector. In 2021, the office reported 10.1 million visitors from the US and Canada between May and August. According to a recent AAA poll, six in ten Americans are planning at least one summer trip, and 35 percent expect to travel more this summer than last.

“Traffic has been good so far,” Dan Jurchak, manager of the Portland Lobster Company bar in Portland, said of the Memorial Day weekend business, adding later, “My favorite part of the job is [that] people from all over the world come here.”

Greeting visitors is exciting, but one constant stressor still looms in the background for both business and customers: inflation.

“Prices have gone up on everything,” Yurchak said. “Lobster meat is really expensive right now, but we try our best to keep it as low as possible and serve as many people as possible.”

RELATED: What a day in the life of record high inflation looks like

Wilbur’s of Maine retail store is in a similar position. Barbara Thompson, retail manager at the Freeport factory, said her team had to increase the price tags because the cost of the products needed to make the goods had risen.

“Unfortunately, because of the price increase, that means we do have a price increase,” Thompson said. “[But, it] not so bad. I mean, we have the highest quality chocolate.”

Thompson said they had already seen visitors from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island as of Monday morning. She said she thought inflation might just make visitors think twice about what they spend their money on.

“They may or may not buy stuffed lobster [toy] or a T-shirt, just because…

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