At the Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs, Vt., almost all of the staff members are vaccinated. Nearly all of the guests arriving to take in the resort’s 165 acres, spa, hayrides and campfires, including teens old enough to get the Covid-19 vaccine, are vaccinated too.
The demand for a weeklong stay at the resort is enormous, said
Pixley Tyler Hill,
one of its owners. It is a departure from last summer, when the resort lost about 97% of its business, constricted by the state’s pandemic-related travel restrictions, she said.
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Now, Ms. Tyler Hill said, guests are pleased to come to Vermont, where it feels safe because of how the state handled Covid-19 and where there is already a built-in “healthy vibe.” She added: “It’s a gangbusters season for anybody.”
After the pandemic held down tourism in summer 2020, states in New England and elsewhere in the Northeast are poised to welcome a surge in visitors over the next few months.
More than 50% of the population in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire is fully vaccinated, and newly reported coronavirus cases remain low throughout the region. According to the Vermont Department of Health, 79.6% of people eligible for vaccination in the state have had at least one shot—a vaccination level that some epidemiologists have said is approaching herd immunity. At 80%, the state will lift any remaining Covid-19 restrictions. Over the past week, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 was less than 1%, according to state data, with five people diagnosed with the disease on a recent day.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills
in early March rolled out a state plan to reclaim the summer tourism that was lost last year. In 2020, Maine was one of the first to require a test or quarantine requirement for visitors, which was copied by several other states. Taxable restaurant sales and lodging taxes were off 26% and 35%, respectively, last year, compared with 2019, according to
director of the Maine Office of Tourism.
For the coming season, the state gradually eased capacity restrictions through the spring while also making a push to vaccinate hospitality workers. As of May 24, the state is fully open, with businesses able to operate without any capacity restrictions.
Ms. Tyler Hill, of the Vermont resort, said she and others in the hospitality industry are finding that the biggest limitation this summer won’t be in anything related to Covid-19 restrictions, but in finding employees. She and others rely on workers who come to the U.S. on a J-1 visa, a temporary visa often used by people who are hired for the season or serve as camp counselors.
‘It’s a gangbusters season for anybody.’
Employers in Maine are reporting high rates of vaccination among hospitality workers and strong bookings, Mr. Lyons said. Visitors are staying longer as they work during travel, and rural counties in the state have experienced increased demand for rentals and more tourists.
Canadian travelers typically account for 15% to 20% of travelers to Maine during the summer season, Mr. Lyons said. But with border restrictions still in place, the state is making up those losses with domestic travelers and expects a strong summer that might approach the 2019 season, he said. Several new direct domestic flights into Maine’s Portland International Jetport—including Frontier Airlines flights from Atlanta, United Airlines flights from Milwaukee and now-daily service from Denver—are boosting the number of travelers into the state.
Marketing Maine as a big tourism destination “isn’t difficult because so many people want to travel now,” he said. “They’re just coming.”
In New York City, NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketing arm, predicts some 36 million visitors in 2021, down from a record 66.6 million in 2019. But officials said Tuesday they are seeing early signs that tourism is rebounding faster. For the first weekend in June, hotels were at 71.9% capacity. The goal over the summer is for hotels to be at 80% occupancy, New York City Mayor
Bill de Blasio
“The recovery is happening a lot quicker than anyone imagined,” Mr. de Blasio said this week. “Mark my words, people are going to flock to New York City.”
Write to Melanie Grayce West at [email protected]
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