CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, New Brunswick — Maine and New Brunswick can reap dollars from the tourism industry by continuing their efforts to strategize and collaborate, the province’s tourism chief told a gathering of Maine business leaders.
“This is an industry of growth and opportunity,” an upbeat Trevor Holder, minister of New Brunswick’s Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, said Wednesday evening during remarks at the fall conference of the Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The two-day conference, held at Roosevelt Campobello International Park, was hosted by the Cobscook Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and was scheduled to wrap up Thursday.
“There’s no reason to doubt the potential of this region,” Holder said of the ability of Maine and Canada to attract visitors from “throughout the globe.” Maine and New Brunswick are great “four season destinations,” he said.
He praised his Maine counterpart, Carolann Ouellette, director of the state’s Office of Tourism, who attended the conference with other state officials, and for the good working relationship he enjoys with Maine officials.
“You have something that we need. We have something you need,” he said. Together, there is a “tremendous opportunity” to drive visitors to this part of the world.
Acadia National Park is ranked in the top 10 of U.S. national parks in terms of visitors, noted Holder.
“We can build on that,” he said. “We can bring people to New Brunswick as well.”
The “internationalization” of a vacationer’s trip will draw more visitors, he suggested. “There’s something exciting about crossing the border. … That’s what we can add to it.”
The Bay of Fundy, with the highest tidal range in the world, is a strong draw for visitors, said Holder.
“The Roosevelts understood the magic of the Bay of Fundy,” he said. “No one else has that.”
Holder pointed to a joint event New Brunswick and Maine officials held in New York City in October 2012 to cultivate media that covers travel. Creating opportunities for travel writers to produce stories about the region is a key, he suggested. Last year’s event resulted in positive coverage for the region.
“You can’t buy that kind of advertisement,” said Holder.
New Brunswick officials are increasingly using technology and social media — gleaning information such as ZIP codes and email addresses from website visits — to target potential visitors and communicate with them, said Holder.
Visitors to the region want to get away from the hustle and bustle of living in metropolitan regions, according to Holder. They want to connect with nature, slow things down, and they also are interested in history and culture.
New Brunswick’s market of travelers is predominantly from the Boston-New York City-Philadelphia triangle, Holder said in an interview earlier. The province’s tourism trade is a $1 billion-a-year industry, he said.
“We can drive the Maine numbers up,” he said. “Maine’s got the base and the brand. We’ve got the international aspect.”
Maine’s tourism officials realize the importance of partnering with New Brunswick, Ouellette suggested in an interview.
“It’s been a good working relationship,” she said.
“There’s this nice affinity” between the two, she said. “We’re neighbors.”
“There’s a nice cachet to the international connection,” said Ouellette.
In remarks prepared for delivery Thursday, Ouellette pointed to upticks in a number of tourism-related indicators for Maine. Lodging taxable sales for July increased 4 percent compared with a year ago, and restaurant taxable sales were up 2.8 percent. Occupancy rates for properties reporting to Smith Travel Research increased 3 percent in August compared with 2012. State park visitorship rose 6 percent for July and August compared with last year, and visitation to Acadia National Park was 5.3 percent higher in July compared with a year ago. Finally, traffic to www.visitmaine.com increased 25 percent in July and August compared with 2012.