Most of the Mainers who work in the state’s hospitality industry already know that this summer hasn’t been easy.
Whether due to a housing shortage that is making it difficult for workers to find places to live or because the state is working hard to rebound from two summers of a pandemic, tourism in Maine just hasn’t quite been the same this year.
Or at least, that’s according to a story published Wednesday by the Boston Globe. A handful of tourists told the Globe that their experiences in Maine this year were a little different than they had come to expect, with higher prices and longer lines.
“Everything closes at 8 o’clock,” one visitor who traveled to Bar Harbor from Pennsylvania told the Globe. “And there’s been a lot of traffic.”
But with workers struggling to find affordable housing, it’s been hard for many establishments that rely on tourists to maintain their typical hours.
In Stonington, one of three towns experiencing overflow from Bar Harbor, available short-term rentals far outnumber residential developments, with about 55 percent of town’s downtown owned by non-residents, while only about 15 percent remains commercial property.
And the lack of affordable housing even hurt employment at Acadia National Park this year. The park, which typically gets millions of visitors in the summer months, had to reduce its typical summer staff from 150 to 120 due to housing availability.
That meant that Acadia had to pull lifeguards from Sand Beach and Echo Lake, and the number of fee collectors, trail crew members and park attendants significantly decreased.
Worker shortages have hit the restaurant industry particularly hard, with temporary closings and shortened hours becoming common occurrences. A landmark diner in Rockland closed in June due to a lack of staff, and Finn’s Pub in Ellsworth closed its doors suddenly in July after the owner stated that “morale was too low to open.”
One tourist, who told the Globe that she had been visiting Maine for years, said that visitors should “temper their expectations” on their next trip to the state after her experience with spotty service, higher prices and longer lines. “It’s $33.95 for a lobster roll box,” she said. “It’s totally worth every blessed cent, but a noticeable increase.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified which town’s non-residential properties surpass its available commercial property.