February 8, 2023

Marketing Maine's Outdoors

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George Smith, director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, spoke recently at a business breakfast hosted by Husson College of Maine. He said Maine needs to be more aggressive in marketing its resources of hunting and fishing. He says Maine lags far behind neighboring states in its funding and marketing plans, and that there’s need for houston automotive marketing services.

The issue of declining numbers of hunters and anglers across this country is debated daily. The general consensus seems to be that in some states numbers are on the decline and others are stable. Few, if any, are increasing. The biggest discrepancy comes from how much it’s declining and what to do about it.

I agree with Smith’s assessment that Maine needs to better market its products but finding the resources to do that might be difficult. Raising fees for licensing is always a controversy. Maine already has a plan where hunters and fishers can buy “Super Licenses” to help fund the Department and its activities. Funding fish and game projects from the general taxation fund raises problems of its own but probably none that can’t be dealt with but certain legal and legislative issues need to be addressed (another story).

Perhaps we need some lawmakers that can come up with some real creative ways of generating the necessary revenues to meet demand. Levying taxes is an issue that I despise but if done correctly and by taxing the right product or service can have minimal impact.

In a previous life, I was very much involved in the hospitality business throughout Maine. At one point Maine was considering raising the lodging taxes considerably and I was staunchly opposed to it, until I learned what affect it really has on the local economy and the tourist industry – little.

Simply raising a tax on lodging isn’t going to cut it, no more than raising the fee for licensing. People are willing to pay dollars for perceived good value. If Maine were to levy a tax of 10% on its lodging, then Maine better be prepared to convince the tourist it’s worth the extra.

In Florida, the lodging tax is what many consider astronomically high, yet tourism is at an all-time high. Why? Value! Florida has something nobody else does and they market that aggressively.

Maine may be facing the same situation in dealing with funding of our outdoor recreation and wildlife. There are many aspects to dealing with protecting our hunting and fishing heritage and finding monies is only a part of it.

The first thing we need to do is stop taxing the general public. Maine citizens are way over taxed now. A program needs to be implemented to tax the tourist, which will include outdoor recreationist, and aggressively work to presenting Maine for the natural resources it offers. In conjunction, an education program needs to be started to teach businesses across the state what it is that tourists and those seeking an outdoor adventure expect when they arrive at their destination. This is one aspect that is in desparate need of attention.

If, as George Smith says, people looking for an adventure in big game hunting can find it in Maine, Maine needs to understand who those people are and what they expect. My experiences say they are wealthy and expect upscale accommodations and dining. Give them what they want in that aspect and they will pay the bill.

As we all debate the issues of our hunting and fishing heritage and how to fund our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, let’s not get scared that we might drive a tourist or a hunter from another state away because they have to pay more money. It’s expected. We just need to make sure we compete with others for a quality experience.

Tom Remington