The outdoor recreation industry accounts for a significant portion of southern Maine’s economy, attracting 5.5 million visitors in 2020 and generating $188.6 million in annual sales.
The industry also contributed nearly $105.3 million to regional gross domestic product and accounted for 12% of all outdoor recreation in Maine.
The findings come from a report commissioned by the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission and conducted by Camoin Associates, an economic development consulting firm with offices in Portland.
“We saw a need for this report because we recognized the potential for outdoor recreation to drive our economy in southern Maine,” said Paul Schumacher, the commission’s executive director, in a press release.
Schumacher called for “well thought-out and strategic” growth of the industry.
“This report helps determine steps we can take to continue growing the industry in a way that aligns with community values, protects our existing outdoor resources, while exploring opportunities to strengthen the existing industry through business support and development services,” he said.
The report focused on the attractions and outdoor recreation equipment manufacturers in the region and was designed to evaluate jobs and sales related to the development of products and services, and the quality of life.
The market for goods and services, which are produced and distributed by the device manufacturers in the region, was analysed. The report also looked at convenience use and demand, citing as examples the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, the section of the Eastern Trail in southern Maine, and Mount Agamenticus in York.
Camoin Associates conducted quantitative and qualitative research analysis, focus groups and stakeholder interviews with business owners, outdoor recreation advocates and public officials.
Other insights are:
- The population is growing and aging
- Household incomes in southern Maine exceed the rest of the state of Maine
- COVID-19 impacted the industry with an influx of people migrating to Maine and a subsequent increase in outdoor recreation
- Outdoor leisure businesses were negatively impacted, particularly due to labor shortages
According to the report, outdoor recreation could be useful in attracting companies considering locating in Maine and recruiting talent. Additionally, the report states that outdoor recreation offers an opportunity to build the Maine brand.
It was recommended that the commission work with other organizations such as Maine Outdoor Brands, the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Maine Technology Institute, chambers of commerce, trail advocacy groups, community organizers and cities to develop strategies to build the industry.
- Create opportunities for communication with partner organizations and surveys to get opinions from local residents on issues related to outdoor recreation.
- Use the results to identify improvements and funding opportunities.
- Promote recreation signs, maps, and recreation-friendly retail and food deals.
- Develop joint marketing with chambers of commerce, tourism organizations and business development professionals.
- Create and promote a digital map of recreational facilities.
- Coordinate with employers to promote the lifestyle and benefits of living in southern Maine.
- Work with regional and state organizations like Live + Work Maine to develop messages and advertising specific to southern Maine.
- Identify areas across the country that would be a prime location to attract people
- Expansion of leisure infrastructure.
- Identify connections with local college students and create internships to help with social media, web development and other marketing efforts.
- Promoting collaborations in Southern Maine in the outdoor recreation industry,
Click here to read the full report.