09/17/2010

Big Tourism Increase for Acadia National Park Area

from http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/viewReport.cfm

Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park and the storied towns of Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor, enjoyed a 19% increase in park visits over July of 2009. The Bar Harbor Chamber’s downtown welcome center saw a 108% increase in visits over last summer so far this year. The reasons are assumed to be weather related, the Presidential visit and the improving economy.

While the rest of the country was baking in triple digit heat and humidity, our Maine coast was mostly in the 80s during the day and 60s at night. But we weren’t socked in fog, our skies were sunny. Rain–just enough–came at night or in a quick daytime shower. No one delayed or canceled their Maine visit due to the weather this summer. In fact, they were in a hurry to get here and reluctant to return home. We did have 5 days of ninety degree weather at the end of August, but the nights cooled down into the 60s. Some store owners complained about how rainy days make for more shoppers and how this factor was in short supply, but I can’t believe those rainy day shoppers wouldn’t go somewhere else next time.

The quick visit of President Obama and his family in mid July put Mount Desert Island into everyone’s consciousness. Reports of the family eating ice cream, hiking, biking and boating made everyone want to get in on the action. Some folks grumbled about the short notice, inconvenience of rerouted traffic and restricted access, but it was over quickly and the buzz has lasted. If this visit had the effect it seems to have had, we should be paying for presidential visits!

The economy is also said to be a factor contributing to our banner year. A combination of value and nearness makes Acadia a sensible choice for those moving just a little beyond a “staycation”. While the early summer optimism about the economy seems to have hit a snag, it may be resolved just in time for next summer. I think it will be a long time before Americans feel flush enough to be flying to Paris and London for their summer vacations. Our local list of things to do does not require a big bank roll and lodgings a little off the beaten track can stretch your dollar more. We are after all, Affordable Acadia!

High tide view from Seacat's Rest shore

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