AUGUSTA — The Maine Office of Tourism, in partnership with the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, has launched Look Out for ME, a marketing and educational initiative to support responsible recreation in the Maine outdoors. With input from leaders in the outdoor recreation industry, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks & Lands and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, MOT developed a communications tool that is meant as an asset to be shared with both the public and private sectors to reinforce Maine’s outdoor brand and ensure respect and care for our natural resources.
Look Out for ME is patterned after the work of the Recreate Responsibly Coalition, a national effort to share best practices to protect ourselves and our natural landscapes. The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 has raised the importance of being outdoors for health and wellness benefits. People are seeking refuge and relief in outdoor exploration with 2020 seeing a substantial increase in the number of people spending time in nature, exploring new places and trying activities for the first time. Sales for outdoor gear and equipment saw large increases here in Maine and nationally. In addition, Maine State Parks saw a record number of visitors in 2020.
“Aside from our people, our natural resources are our biggest asset and are an integral part of our economy. DECD, through the Office of Tourism and Office of Outdoor Recreation is committed to working with other state agencies and the private sector to provide our residents and visitors with tools to safely and sustainably enjoy all Maine offers in the outdoors,” said Maine Department of Economic & Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson.
The goal of the Look Out for ME initiative is to ensure that visitors and residents alike venture out safely and responsibly, with a great respect for the land and waters. There is a downloadable toolkit with assets including logos, social media posts and printable posters for businesses and organizations to use in their communications and marketing efforts.
The Maine Office of Tourism will complement the initiative with paid digital and print advertising and roll out a summer advertising plan in April.
“As more and more people engage in outdoor activities, there is a need to ensure information is available on how to safely participate and become stewards of our natural resources. The more positive the experience, the greater the likelihood is for return visits,” said Maine Office of Tourism Director Steve Lyons.
There is no indication the trend for outdoor recreating will end any time soon. A study done within the past year reported that 82 percent of people recreating for the first time during the pandemic say they plan to continue to do so. That’s good news for Maine where outdoor recreation makes up 4.2 percent of Maine’s economy, which more than double the national average.
Roughly 94 percent of Maine’s forest land is privately owned, and more than half of that land area is open to the public. Maine and the people who recreate here are fortunate for the generosity of landowners who open up their land for hiking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and more. To preserve these opportunities for generations to come, respect for the landowners and our natural resources is vital. The Look Out for ME initiative serves as a reminder of that.
“In Maine, we are fortunate to have a wealth of natural areas, a strong outdoor brand, and several private businesses that sustain and grow a thriving outdoor economy. The tools available through the Look Out for ME initiative will help the public and private sectors have a unified message of responsibility and sustainability, ultimately helping more people safely enjoy the outdoors and protecting the outdoor assets we have,” said Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick.
The Look Out for ME information and toolkit can be found at www.visitmaine.com/look-out-for-me.