(The Center Square) – Maine’s hospitality industry held a news conference recently to call on the Mills administration to allot close to $800 million in federal stimulus funding to save the state’s hard-hit tourism sector.
Without dramatic action, thousands of small businesses are in danger of closing down for good, said Steve Hewins, CEO of HospitalityMaine, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“Due to the devastation the state’s restrictions are causing, this emergency funding is crucial for business survival, Hewins said.
The plan also has the backing of the Maine Tourism Association, the Retail Association of Maine, Ski Maine, the Maine Campground Owners Association and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.
Dana Connors, Maine State Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the industry and the governor’s administration need to work in tandem to reopen Maine to tourism.
“There is too much at risk if we don’t,” Connors said.
Figures from the Maine Office of Tourism show Maine had 21 million overnight tourists last year, with direct tourism spending roughly $6.5 billion overall.
In April alone, COVID-19 mandated closures cost the industry 42,600 jobs, amounting to 61 percent of its workforce, according to data from the Maine Department of Labor.
In response, Mills said she welcomes proposals from all business sectors and would ask her Economic Recovery Committee to consider them as it works toward jump-starting recovery.
The administration also said all out-of-state tourists could come to Maine starting June 26, five days earlier than originally planned. They would, however, still be subject to quarantine restrictions, which require either a recent negative COVID-19 test, or a 14-day quarantine once they arrive.
“Our plan is working and our administration is working hard to protect the health of Maine people and ensure that our state is a safe place for people to visit this summer,” Mills said.