Interest in Downeast Region Spikes as Promotional Publications Launch

By Lura Jackson

 

Just in time for the approaching tourism season, interest in the Downeast region is picking up in large part thanks to the efforts of recently released promotional publications. The early results indicate that effective marketing and outreach will have a potentially significant impact on attracting visitors.

In the Calais area, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce released the first magazine publication oriented toward “way down east” on April 3rd with a launch party at the Wabanaki Cultural Center. The Best Kept Secrets Way Down East magazine, which includes dozens of full-color pages outlining area attractions, businesses and activities, features writing and photography from various volunteer contributors. While it is designed for people that are not familiar with the area, those who are from the extended Calais region may find it helpful even if only for its listing of more than 130 upcoming events. An online version of the magazine will be viewable this week at visitstcroixvalley.com/about/magazine.

The chamber plans to distribute 10,000 printed copies of the magazine around the New England-Maritimes area, with some copies heading all the way down the east coast. The magazine includes attractions around Calais as well as Machias and Western New Brunswick, as contributor Richard Auletta explains. “Calais has proudly collaborated with other chambers in the region, in Machias, Eastport and St. Stephen, in marketing our region as a varied and unique destination for tourists, whether adventurers, families with children, or people seeking scenic wonders and the natural beauty of oceans, lakes, forests and streams,” Auletta said. “The cultural richness of the community makes it a ‘three-nation’ destination, where the Native-American culture and long history coexists with two modern and dynamic nations.”

“Our ‘dream’ of producing a magazine specifically about this area has been a long time coming,” said Marianne Moore, Chairperson of the chamber, of the completed product. “I am very pleased with the final product. A lot of hard work went into its production! My hat is off to Helen and the many volunteers who helped make this possible.”

Sufficient copies of the magazine to distribute to all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have been brought to Augusta by legislators Anne Perry and Joyce Maker of Calais. “This distribution in Augusta will make Maine lawmakers statewide more aware of the many things that our area has to offer visitors and residents alike,” Auletta said.

On another front, DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism [DART] is promoting the region through its own publication, the 2018 Visitor Guide to DownEast Acadia. The 32-page publication, which touts itself as a “a guide to true Maine”, covers seven communities within the Downeast region: the Blue Hill peninsula, Ellsworth, the Bar Harbor and Acadia areas, Schoodic to Jonesport, Machias Bay, Bay of Fundy and Campobello, and the Grand Lakes. Included are places of interest, history, activities, places to shop, and more.

Now available to view online at downeastacadia.com/travel-planner, the travel planner has been getting a positive response in terms of generating interest, according to Crystal Hitchings of DART.

When the above link was sent out to 14,000 email addresses on March 7th, 25 percent opened the email. Of that number, 20 percent continued on to request more information. The result led to an “unprecedented” 750 inquiries in the first half of March alone this year, compared to 250 for the entire month of March last year, Hitchings provided.

The inquiries came in from all over the United States, though the large majority were from East of the Mississippi. Other inquiries from individuals located overseas from such locales as Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, indicated the broad appeal of the Downeast region.

As tourism becomes an increasingly important industry to rural Maine, marketing efforts designed to demonstrate what our region offers are clearly making significant strides this year.