Maine lodging, restaurant revenues on the rise

Posted Sept. 16, 2010, at 3:55 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Anecdotal reports of a strong summer tourism season were bolstered Thursday by new Maine revenue figures showing sharp increases in restaurant and lodging revenues, state tourism officials said.

Lodging sales rose 13.4 percent in July over July 2009, according to figures from Maine Revenue Services. Also, restaurant sales for July 2010 were up 5.9 percent over July 2009.

The revenue agency also reported that during the period from May through July, lodging sales were up 10 percent over the same three-month period last year. Restaurant sales during the May-July period were up 4 percent over the same period in 2009.

Maine Office of Tourism Director Patricia Eltman acknowledged that the summer season of 2009 got off to a dismal start because of seemingly relentless rain, and that the rebound reflected in the numbers for 2010 “is a very good sign for the tourism industry and Maine in general.” Eltman said she hopes the trend will continue through the fall and winter.

“We heard positive reports from throughout the state all season long,” Eltman said. “These numbers certainly support the anecdotal information we had previously received.”

In addition to the positive sales tax figures, CruiseMaine USA has reported an increase of 36,000 passengers on cruise ships to Maine ports this year.

Actual July sales are reflected in revenue figures for August that were presented to lawmakers on Thursday, which showed overall general fund collections for the first two months of the fiscal year that began July 1 to be over forecast by $22.5 million or 8.2 percent.

Rep. Emily Cain, House chairwoman of the appropriations committee, noted the bump in taxes from tourism-related businesses.

“I’m encouraged by the end-of-summer revenue, I think that’s strong for us,” said the Orono Democrat.

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