Charles Lawton offers valuable food for thought with his June 20 column, “It’s time for tourism model that spreads benefits all over the state.” We want Portland Press Herald readers to know about a major effort by the Maine Woods Consortium to implement Lawton’s core proposals.

The consortium is a partnership of 20 public, business and nonprofit organizations focusing on development and promotion of outstanding tourism destinations in northern and Down East Maine. We are committed to a “triple bottom line” mission: quality career opportunities, thriving rural communities and conservation of Maine’s phenomenal natural assets.

With crucial assistance from the Maine Office of Tourism, we are framing strategies for eight rural destination areas: the Mahoosucs, Rangeley and High Peaks, Kennebec Valley, Moosehead Lake, Katahdin region, St. John Valley, Downeast Lakes and Bold Coast.

Our goal is to implement versions of Lawton’s “hub and spoke” strategy in two distinct ways:

First, by channeling training, technical assistance and investment to the high-potential areas listed above, supporting development of host towns (hubs) that offer quality dining, lodging and other amenities and the surrounding smaller communities, cultural attractions and recreational resources that round out destination experiences (the spokes). Bethel, Farmington, Greenville and Millinocket are examples of high-potential tourist hubs.

Second, positioning rural destination areas as spokes through more effective marketing to tourists visiting Portland, Acadia and other coastal hubs. David Vail has written about ways to get coastal visitors out of their cars with convenient “people moving” transportation to and around the Maine woods. But realistically, there is no viable near-term alternative to personal vehicles for most visitors to Maine’s more remote destinations.

This summer is a great time to sample Maine Woods’ tourist innovations. Check out visitmaine.com and mainewoodsdiscovery.com.

David Vail

steering committee, Maine Woods Consortium

Brunswick

Mike Wilson

network coordinator, Maine Woods Consortium

South Portland