They’re BACCKKK! The tourists have invaded as we are now in “peak season.”
We all know how important tourism is to Maine’s economy but for some year-round residents, tourists can be as annoying as a mosquito buzzing around your head while you’re trying to sleep.
Summer in Maine means sharing our state with others — many others. That leads to more traffic on the roads, more people on the sidewalks and longer lines pretty much everywhere. For businesses that depend on tourism, this is a welcome sight. For other year-round residents, it can really test their patience.
Rather than fight it and complain about it, why not embrace it?
Think of it this way: Maine is having a big party right now and every single one of us is a host. The experience our visitors have will in great part depend on how welcome they feel at our party.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you’ve ever traveled, you can relate to saving your money and your vacation time for your one or two weeks a year. You plan it and look forward to it.
Think back to the places you’ve visited. Chances are your fondest memories will be less about the places you went and more about the people you met. If the locals are great, you remember that, and if they’re not, you remember that, too.
The visitors here chose Maine as their vacation destination and we are fortunate to have them. Let’s help them take home great memories about the people they met in Maine, because Mainers are awesome!
Here are a few ways to make our visitors feel welcome and make tourist season more fun for you, too:
Be patient on the roads
While on a trip to Hawaii, I went for a drive with a local in very congested traffic. I was struck by the fact that no one was laying on their horns. I asked the driver why. He told me that they consider honking their horns a rude gesture and it just isn’t done. Their attitude is to just “chill” and be kind to one another.
Try it the next time you are tempted to lay on that horn.
When you are stuck behind a tourist crawling along Route 1 and peering at the ocean view, rather than honking at them or passing them in a “hissy fit,” try slowing down and looking at the view yourself. Pretend it’s the first time you’re seeing it, too. Take it all in.
Seeing our state through the eyes of a visitor can help us fall in love with it all over again.
Take their photo
If you see visitors snapping pics of each other, stop and ask if you can take one of all of them together. Welcome them to Maine and ask if they have any questions or need any tips for places to go.
I enjoy asking people where they’re from and what brought them here. Asking what they have liked best about their visit to Maine has inspired me to return to some of the places they have enjoyed or go there myself for the first time.
Give them directions
If you spot tourists looking at a map, introduce yourself as someone who lives here and ask if they need any help finding anything.
Last summer I saw a couple checking out the map at the City Forest in Bangor. I asked them if they needed any help. They were from Australia and were looking for the bog walk. I offered to walk them to it. I enjoyed our conversation as much as they did. They commented about how nice the people in Maine were and now I have an open invitation to visit them. The 15 minutes it took out of my day was well worth it.
You know when you give an article of clothing to someone because you are tired of it, and then you see them wearing it and think, “Dang, that looks really good on them. I should have kept it”? Summer in Maine is kind of like that. We can easily take this place we call home for granted until we see someone else discovering it for the first time.
So for the next few months, let’s make our guests feel welcome and let’s party ourselves! Get out there and do those things that our visitors do, and while you’re at it, slow down and enjoy the view.