PORTLAND, Maine — Maine tourism officials recapped the 2010 summer season and unveiled three new initiatives for 2011 at the start of the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Thursday.
The new initiatives include two campaigns aimed at linking tourists with performing arts in the state and with world-class designers here, as well as a mobile device application to be used for all things related to the Maine lobster.
MainePerforms! is a collaboration among the Maine Office of Tourism, the Maine Arts Commission and other organizations, according to Carolann Ouellette, deputy director of the tourism office.
It highlights 25 performing arts organizations, venues, festivals and other groups around the state, including offerings ranging from the Acadian Festival in Madawaska to the Public Theater in Lewiston, the Oddfellow Theater in Buckfield, Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, the American Folk Festival and Penobscot Theatre in Bangor and more.
“Maine is blessed with a vibrant arts community,” said Ouellette. “Research shows that culture tourists stay longer and spend more.”
The campaign includes full-color brochures, a direct-marketing element, public relations roll-out and a soon-to-be finished Web feature on the visitmaine.com site. Abbe Levin of the tourism office said the agency has considered the concept for several years. She pointed out that there are world-class performers in Maine, and they’re much more accessible to patrons here than in large areas such as New York City.
“It’s a much more intimate, place-based experience,” she said.
The Maine designer videos are a series of in-depth shows with some of the state’s best-known artisans, including Angela Adams, Jill McGowan, Thos. Moser, Grain Surfboards, Sea Bags, Lunaform of Maine and Brahms Mount blankets.
Essentially, the videos offer a shopping experience for tourists — or potential tourists — with Maine’s top designers.
“These are interesting people talking about something unique, and perhaps unexpected, in Maine,” said Ouellette.
The office also will launch its first mobile app, she said, covering everything a consumer needs to know about lobsters — including how to cook them, where to find them and other key factors.
The initiatives keyed off findings from tourism office research. Stephen Lyons, director of marketing for the office, said shopping was the top reason for day trippers to visit Maine.
Roughly 23.2 million people visited Maine last summer, with New York and Massachusetts the top sources for tourists, making up 40 percent of the overnight market, followed by Canadians at 19 percent.
That overall visitor population marked a 14 percent increase in overnight visitors, and a 9 percent increase in day trippers, over 2009.
Those numbers match what the Bar Harbor region experienced, said Tony Cameron, director of marketing and sales at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Cameron was one of the several hundred gathered for the conference at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.
“We saw a great summer, actually,” said Cameron.
Cameron said his group also is looking to launch a mobile app highlighting businesses, events and other offerings of the region. He said the Chamber has been doing some marketing to try to extend the shoulder season of tourism, to shake the perception that the town shuts down in the winter.
“There’s still places to eat, places to go shopping,” he said.
Cameron pointed out that Acadia National Park, the big draw for the region, is open in the winter, with premier snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and some snowmobiling.
The annual Maine Tourism Awards also were presented, with this year’s recipients including:
The Women of the Commons in Eastport, the Maine Winter Sports Center, Jason Briggs of VIP Creativity, Maine Huts & Trails, Cellardoor Winery & Vineyard, ArtWalk Maine and Deborah Lennon of the Kennebunkport Inn.