Coastal Tourism Planning

Maine Sea Grant recognizes tourism as an important aspect of the coastal economy. Throughout the Gulf of Maine region, tourism offers communities both economic promise and environmental concern. In Maine, the tourism industry and its affiliated support services employ more than fishing, farming, forestry, and aquaculture combined. The region’s fame as a coastal destination requires careful planning and creative partnerships among industry, management, municipalities, and agencies to foster a tourism economy that is both healthy for local communities and inspiring for its visitors.

This kind of tourism planning is referred to as sustainable tourism, ecotourism, nature-based tourism, geotourism, heritage tourism… and many other terms used to define a growing movement within the industry and the traveling public. The overarching goal is tourism practices that both protect the areas and communities visited while at the same time providing a quality experience for visitors.

Effective tourism planning requires partnerships among a cross section of niches ranging from adventure to heritage tourism, academia and governments, nonprofits and the service sector. Extension associate Sea Grant works with a variety of partners to promote tourism practices and priorities that foster sustainable economic development and conservation of coastal areas.  Projects, events, advisory capacity and support are available or have occurred in the following areas:

2010 Korea-US Sea Grant Collaboration International Workshop  

As Korea Sea Grant grows its programs, sustainable tourism is a key area of interest for this Asian country.  Maine Sea Grant extension association Springuel was invited to present on The Role of Sea Grant Extension in Marine Ecotourism and Beyond at a September 2010 collaborative workshop at Jeju National University, Republic of Korea.  The Role of Sea Grant Extenison in Marine Ecotourism (pdf of presentation)

Downeast Fisheries Trail

The Downeast Fisheries Trail is an educational trail that showcases active and historic fisheries heritage sites, such as fish hatcheries, aquaculture facilities, fishing harbors, clam flats, processing plants and other related public places in an effort to educate residents and visitors about the importance of the region’s maritime heritage and the role of marine resources to the area’s economy. The Trail builds on these local resources to strengthen community life and the experience of visitors.

Newfoundland:  Tourism and Fisheries Heritage Lessons for Maine

Fisheries heritage and tourism go hand in hand in Newfoundland, Canada, where, much like Maine, coastal communities rely on the sea to make a living.

Downeast Sustainable Tourism Initiative Year 2010

Maine Sea Grant is an active member of the Vacationland Resources Committee (VRC) of the Downeast RC&D. In 2005, this multi-organizational committee released the updated DESTINY 2010 (Downeast Sustainable Tourism Initiative Year 2010). The plan’s vision is to “seek responsible and sustainable development of cultural and nature-based tourism opportunities for regional economic prosperity” in Hancock and Washington Counties.  VRC serves as a liaison between tourism interests throughout the two county region, and produces a newsletter to over 1200 tourism interests.  Please contact Springuel for more information.

A Resource Guide for Sustainable Tourism

The Resource Guide for Sustainable Tourism is a comprehensive compendium of information for tourism businesses who want to green their operations.  It is helping the Downeast/Acadia and Charlotte County, New Brunswick, region become a leader in the rapidly growing market for sustainable tourism opportunities. The Resource Guide, completed in partnership with VRC (see above), fosters sustainable maritime activities in the Gulf of Maine and helps tourism operators become citizen stewards by providing resources that help them green their operations while enhancing their economic potential.

Maine Governor’s Task Force on Nature-based Tourism Initiative

Sea Grant Extension Associate Natalie Springuel represents the Downeast/Acadia region on the Governor’s Task Force on Nature-based Tourism. The goal of the task force, which governor Baldacci created in 2005, is to develop and expand nature-based tourism opportunities in Maine ‘s rural communities. Rural Maine has a wealth of natural resources, but lacks basic tourism infrastructure to connect visitors to these recreational opportunities.

Partner projects include:

Washington County Nature Tourism Survey Results

Few recent county-specific studies exist to guide the decisions of local business owners, natural resource managers, and local organizations working on sustainable tourism development. A 2009 University of Maine at Machias research project, funded by the Center for Tourism Research & Outreach (CenTRO) was designed to provide Washington County tourism stakeholders with information about travel patterns, the consistency between visitor expectations and their satisfaction, and by identifying tourism promotion needs in the region.  For more information about the project, contact
Download 1 page summary
Download full report

Past projects include:

Sustainable and Experiential Tourism Resource Guide

In March 2006, Maine Sea Grant partnered with the Vacationland Resources Committee to host the Workshop on Sustainable and Experiential Tourism in Downeast and Acadia , held in Machias, Maine. Workshop participants received a CD compilation of resources as well as the Sustainable and Experiential Tourism Resource Guide. This document serves as a companion to the workshop CD, and includes workshop documents, a list of who’s who in sustainable and experiential tourism in the Downeast Maine region, an annotated list of Web sites, reports, and much more. This document lays the foundation of the more extensive Resource Guide for Sustainable Tourism, published in April 2007.

Marine Extension in Action: Sustainable Tourism Planning 415 KB

For more in depth information on Maine Sea Grant’s involvement in Sustainable Tourism, view this two-page document.

From Store to Shore: Sea Kayak Safety and Stewardship Brochure 161 KB

This brochure is published in partnership with multiple outfitters in Maine, the Maine Island Trail Association, the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors, and the U.S. Coast Guard to promote safe and responsible paddling on Maine’s coast. Printed copies of the brochure are also available on request.

Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment Geotourism Task Force

The diverse membership of this task force is collaborating to develop a Gulf of Maine-wide strategy for sustainable tourism.

Maine Coast Natural History Seminar

This annual seminar, sponsored in part by Maine Sea Grant, provides educational programs for Maine sea kayak guides and coastal educators.

For more information about Coastal Tourism Planning, contact Natalie Springuel