ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Get ready - Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer tourist season. Maine people who make their living from tourism say 2013 is shaping up to be another strong season.
Inn owner Frank Isganitis in Rockland says advance bookings at his Lime Rock Inn are up 35% for the year. Rockland's Trade Winds Hotel reports a ten to fifteen percent increase in advance bookings for the season.
The Maine Tourism Association says those reports are similar to others they're hearing from other member businesses.
According to figures compiled by the Maine Office of Tourism, 2012 saw an overall increase in tourism revenue between four and five percent. Those same statistics show that tourism employs more than 85,000 people in Maine, and generated just under $5 billion in direct revenue to the Maine economy.
Tourism business owners, large and small, say Memorial Day may be a ceremonial starting point for the season, but the busy part of the season doesn't actually begin until the end of June, and the Fourth of July. From that point through the third week in August most tourist businesses are at full speed. Then the traffic slows as families return to home and school, and a different tourist crowd takes over. But that so-called "shoulder season" tourism has become very important to mid-coast businesses.
Many report that September and even October are noticeably busier than June.
Business owners in Rockland tell NEWS CENTER they believe the improvement in the economy out5side of Maine is helping encourage more people to vacation here. Barring an unexpected disruption of some sort, the one unpredictable element is weather.
Tourist businesses say many of their visitors now will plan their trips just a few days ahead of time, check conditions on line and make a final decision based on the immediate weather forecast. As the manager of Wasses' Hot Dogs put it, "our business is climate controlled."