During the seven years when my wife Linda and I wrote weekly travel columns for this newspaper, we learned a lot about Maine’s tourism industry. One thing that really concerned us was when the federal government severely reduced the amount of visas available to seasonal workers who came here from other countries.

Portland Press Herald reporter Peter McGuire recently wrote about this issue, reporting that Maine’s congressional delegation is asking the Trump administration to allow more temporary foreign workers into the country (“Maine’s delegation pushes for more visas to help fill seasonal jobs, Jan. 29). Maine desperately needs that.

When the visas were reduced quite a few resorts — including some of our favorite places — along our coast weren’t able to make some of their rooms available because of the lack of staff. Sen. Angus King said, “This is a national problem. We can’t seem to get the administration to a more responsible position on this issue.”

Already this year seasonal businesses have asked for almost 100,000 visa positions, three times the number of visas available. Lots of Maine businesses employed visa workers for many years and suddenly they were shut out.

“Bringing in a workforce that can help out in peak season is instrumental to every single business that operates in Ogunquit,” Tony DeLois, who owns hotels in Portland and Ogunquit, told McGuire. Linda and I loved Ogunquit, and this is very sad news.

Our delegation, in their letter to the president, wrote “without immediate and meaningful H-2B cap relief, seasonal businesses will be forced to scale back operations, cancel or default on contracts, layoff full-time U.S. workers and, in some cases, close operations completely.”

Linda and I were always impressed with how friendly those visa workers were. For example, we stayed at and wrote about The Bluenose Inn and their restaurant in Bar Harbor several times, where their visa employees were very friendly, from the ladies cleaning rooms to the chef working in his garden outside the restaurant. They all smiled and had time to visit with us.

Most of our travel columns are still available on my website, www.georgesmithmaine.com. Just select the Best of Maine section, and the town, and you’ll get our columns about inns, restaurants, and activities in that town.

We did love the southern Maine coast, while we focused a lot on rural Maine, including our favorite places Downeast, Lubec and Campobello. I’ve sent a lot of people to Lubec and everyone has loved it. I just helped a lady and her two nieces plan their first trip to Lubec. Please let me know if I can help you plan a trip to Lubec and Campobello. We also wrote often about the good restaurants in Waterville, Augusta, and nearby towns.

Wherever you’re traveling to in Maine, I encourage you to check out our columns, which can help plan your trip. One thing we learned while writing the columns was that people who own inns and restaurants work very very hard. We are blessed to have so many wonderful places to stay and eat in Maine.

I was amused recently by Meredith Goad’s newspaper story about people who go out to eat and spend the whole evening staring at their phone. Linda and I would be astonished to see a whole table in a restaurant with the mother and father and children all sitting there staring at their phones.

I love the idea that some places, including one of our favorite places in Damariscotta, King Eiders Pub, on some evenings give their customers a discount if they’ll lock their phones away while they’re in the restaurant. Some customers were astonished at how much fun they had without their phone.

So, ditch your phone, and enjoy Maine!

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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