Marilynn Mann trainingThe Northern Forest Center concluded a three-year project to provide technical and financial assistance to tourism businesses in the Maine Woods. The effort helped train 717 employees of just over 450 businesses on how to improve their bottom line and customer satisfaction. 33 microgrants were awarded to businesses to seek outside expertise to improve their marketing, leveraging $66,000 in private investment.

The tourism training initiative lays the groundwork for destination area development, a holistic, community-centered approach to creating high-amenity destinations that are attractive to live in and visit. We will work with tourism businesses and other stakeholders to use acquired skills from recent trainings to launch community training programs that offer series of intentional series of trainings that build necessary momentum behind destination development to tip the scale in starting positive change. Learn more of our takeaways from tourism training.

The Center is advancing our rural destination development strategy as the State of Maine searches for a recreation destination specialist. Recreation-based tourism is an increasingly important source of economic opportunity in rural Maine. The Center believes that historic investments in conservation and recreation infrastructure can be effectively leveraged by a targeted destination development strategy. “Clusters” are already emerging with private sector leadership.

We will work with our partners in state government and the Maine Woods Consortium to help communities prepare for and take advantage of this new resource for destination development. The new destination development specialist grew out of a legislative effort led by the Center and the Maine Woods Consortium to advance strategic clustering of recreational amenities, particularly around developed communities. Clustered development of amenities will create quality experiences for visitors in the Maine Woods as a strategy to generate local wealth and provide quality jobs in the Maine Woods.

Five tourism businesses have been awarded small mini grants to improve their offerings to visitors traveling to the Maine Woods. The Center is helping to boost visitor experiences by working with partners through the Maine Woods Consortium. Together we provide training workshops and small grants to tourism businesses in all seven Maine Woods counties. The majority of businesses have chosen to leverage the mini grants to improve their web visibility, a critical marketing move for these employers.

Learn more about our Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative.

Rural tourism can create quality careers in northern Maine

as seen in the Bangor Daily News on July 30, 2015

By: Keith Bisson, David Vail and Mike Wilson
Patricia Callahan’s July 7 essay, “Tourism jobs can’t replace high-wage manufacturing jobs,” on her BDN blog highlights an inescapable rural Maine reality. No one sector can offset the thousands of forest-industry jobs that have eroded away in recent decades, even as productivity has increased. That’s especially true for papermaking, whose highly paid jobs once meant prosperity for much of rural Maine.