A new program intends to make one-time grants to help businesses and workers in Maine’s tourism industry impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Maine Tourism Relief Fund was created by the Maine Tourism Association and Poland Spring, which donated $100,000 to jump-start the program. Bissel Brothers Brewing and Experience Maine are also contributors.

“Tourism is the backbone of Maine’s economy, and that is why the industry needs to be supported in this difficult time,” said Maine Tourism CEO Tony Cameron in a statement. “We hope that by creating this fund, we can help protect the industries that Mainers and visitors alike will enjoy for many years to come.”

Maine’s hotels, restaurants and businesses they support have been brought to their knees by forced closures and social distancing protocol to contain the spread of coronavirus.

By one estimate, tourism supports more than 110,000 workers in Maine. Last year more than 37 million out-of-state visitors spent about $6.5 billion in Maine.

Businesses and employees can apply for a one-time grant from the fund at the Maine Tourism Association website. People and companies may also donate to the program on the website.

Subject to availability of funds, individuals may qualify for a $500 grant and businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for $1,000 grants. It will begin accepting applications on May 4.

All of the money donated to the fund will be delivered directly to recipients.

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