Slightly fewer tourists came to Maine in 2023 but they spent more time and money, particularly in the offseason, according to a report from the state Office of Tourism released Thursday.

Maine had 15.3 million visitors last year, a 0.6% decline from 2022, but the number of visitor days increased 3.9% with the average length of stay being 4.8 nights, a 6.7% jump over 2022. Travel to the state during the shoulder seasons accounted for 44% of the visitors, up 3.4 percentage points from 2022, according to the report released in conjunction with the Governor’ Annual Conference on Tourism held Wednesday and Thursday at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.

Tourism spending in 2023 – on accommodations, transportation, groceries, restaurants, shopping and entertainment – totaled $9.1 billion, a 4.9% increase fueled by a 5.3% increase in spending per visitor per trip. Those travelers, according to the Office of Tourism, ultimately generated a $16.4 billion impact to Maine’s economy, lowering taxes for every Maine household by $2,467.

Nearly have of the domestic visitors in 2023 came from the Northeast: Massachusetts (15%), New York (8%), New Hampshire (7%), Connecticut (5%), Florida (5%), Pennsylvania (4%) and New Jersey (4%), the report said. Roughly 17% of the visitors were Mainers traveling in Maine. Canadians accounted for 5% of the visitors and 2% came from outside the United State and Canada.

People visiting Maine for the first time made up 19% of visitors.

The year-in-review figures portrayed a “mixed bag” during the summer 2023 tourist season. Many rainy and foggy days led to the decline in  individual visitors, and only a modest sales bump in May through August of last year.


The data also exceeds expectations given the capacity many businesses had to welcome visitors. Amid a heightening workforce and employee-housing shortage, more than 70% of businesses said they would be understaffed leading into the summer, according to a survey from the Maine Tourism Association.

And some businesses did have to close because summer sales weren’t strong enough to overcome operating cost increases, labor challenges and issues with weather, Becky Jacobson, executive director of HospitalityMaine, told the Press Herald last year.

According to the report, the gains are a marker of success from a year of strategic planning. The implementation of the destination management plan includes a “refreshed” Maine tourism brand and other marketing initiatives.

The state also sees the data as a sign of the challenges that tourism businesses can conquer – and the industry’s importance to the state.

“Maine’s tourism industry businesses continue to show resilience and adapt to challenges, from weather impacts to employee housing shortages,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

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