Commentary

Hitchcock: Tourism Trumps Excitement in Maine

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A few weeks ago, fellow Maine Wire columnist Christine Rousselle wrote an op-ed piece about why young people are not returning to Maine.  As a young person in Maine, I understood where she was coming from and I agree that those are the reasons why young adults tend to leave Maine.  Young adults want excitement and activity in ways Maine does not really cater to.

While having young people living in working in Maine would have its benefits on the Maine economy, Maine’s current economic structure is designed in a way where a transition to focus on recruiting young people would hurt Maine’s largest industries, and therefore its economy.  This hit to Maine’s economy is likely why Maine will not change its focus on industries that bring in younger people.

Maine’s economy would suffer if it took measures to recruit young people because a transition into new industries would take money to start developing them, and the existing industries would decline.  Like any starting investment, focusing on new industries that Maine has not fully developed will drain a lot of money and resources up front.  This money would be earned through Maine’s current large industries.  One of Maine’s largest industries is tourism, which incorporates the hotel business, restaurant services, and others needed for people to visit Maine.

But why do people come to Maine?  The simple answer is to get away.  When people visit Maine, they come to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and to relax in a quiet area.  If they wanted to visit a more boisterous environment, tourists would go to places like Boston or New York City.  If Maine were to start focusing on developing to bring in young people, who tend to gravitate towards entertainment industries and a more developed business environment, Maine could very well lose those who come here to vacation.  So now not only would Maine’s resources decrease to start development of new industries, but it’s resources would decrease again with tourism declining.  This double dip into Maine’s resources could seriously harm the economy in the beginning of a transition.  Traditionally, losing a lot of resources up front tend to deter people from engaging in activities that require a lot of money up front, and this would not be any different.  Maine is not ready to make that investment to switch its focus on a different industry that negatively effects its strongest industries, and will likely not try to change to bring in young people.

To conclude, a transition between Maine’s focus on tourism towards a focus on business development and entertainment will not happen, at least in the near future.  While bringing in young people may be better for Maine’s economy in the future, the transition will cost money and resources both in focusing on new industries and losing the revenue from its current industries.  The lack of urban businesses and entertainment is why young people are not returning to Maine, and Maine will not recruit young people in order to preserve its current economy.

A young person can wish for new development geared toward young adults, but this author also understands that Maine is not yet ready to try recruiting young people.

About Nathan Hitchcock

Nathan Hitchcock is currently a law student at the University of Maine School of Law and volunteers as a researcher for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Prior to law school, he attended Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he earned a B.A. in Political Economy.

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