BAR HARBOR — People are out and about at one of Maine’s most popular destinations.
Last year at this time many businesses were closed and struggling.
A lot has changed since then.
“Even compared to 2018 and 2019 we are already seeing huge numbers,” said John Bench, the manager at Cool as a Moose. “Everyone is ready to come out and come to Bar Harbor.”
Some experts project this tourist season will be one of the most popular in recent history.
“We’re thinking it’s going to be a rebound year,” said Alf Anderson the executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “Just what we are hearing from the campgrounds and the hotels and rentals, everything is booked.”
“There is definitely pent-up demand for visitation and our businesses are ready to welcome people safely,” Anderson said.
He thanked federal and local funding for helping businesses keep their doors open during the pandemic.
But, he said, the conversation has now shifted.
“People want to welcome customers,” Anderson said. “They want to have guests in hotel rooms. They want to have patrons at their bars and restaurants and their shops. We’re excited. We know everyone wants to get back to a sense of normalcy.”
“Officially right around memorial day is when things are happening,” said Bench. “But we’re seeing numbers in April as we’ve never seen before.”
Other stores have relied on online shipping to stay afloat but are also looking forward to face-to-face interaction.
“We do a very personal presentation to everyone who comes into the store,” said Rachel Karon, the manager at Fiore Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars. “It’s hard to do that online obviously so it’ll be nice to give them that part of our business.”
Everyone said they are looking forward to a sense of normalcy.
More stores and restaurants will open for Memorial Day on May 31.