As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, America is primed for a travel boom in 2022. And there’s no hotter destination than “Vacationland” — our home state of Maine.

Even last year, in the midst of the pandemic, nearly 16 million visitors flocked to Maine — a third more than in 2020. Not only that, but Maine’s visitors spent $7.8 billion in 2021, over a billion dollars more than the record set in 2019.

Mainers fully expect another record-setting year, and for good reason. With summer here, we see that many Americans are itching to pick up where they left off in 2019 and travel unencumbered once again. And, with a wide range of amenities, Maine is the place to scratch that itch. From Portland’s food scene to the carriage roads of Acadia and the western Maine mountains, there is something for everyone here.

But Maine doesn’t just have to be a weekend trip or a one-week stop. Our state isn’t just “Vacationland.” You can live here. You can find a meaningful career here. And you may just stay for a lifetime.

Vacationland draws millions of tourists per year, but more and more Americans are turning vacation into a permanent stay. Nearly two-thirds of Maine moves are made by people coming here — a higher percentage than in every state other than Idaho and North Carolina. Cities like Portland are among the most competitive places to buy a home in the entire country.

People are moving to all parts of Maine, not just the Portland metropolitan area or other coastal locales. Part of the reason is that out-of-staters can access Maine very easily. From the Maine Turnpike and the Portland International Jetport to Concord Coach Lines and the Amtrak Downeaster, our state’s infrastructure makes it anything but a remote destination. We are extremely integrated with the rest of New England, the United States, and even Canada to the north. The once-popular expression — “you can’t get there from here” — no longer applies.


Maine’s infrastructure also includes high-speed broadband access, which continues to improve in more rural areas. It is buoyed by more than $150 million in investments from federal funds and the recently enacted Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. Whether you’re overlooking Rangeley Lake or sipping coffee at Becky’s Diner in Portland, you will be connected to the local community and the online world. After all, connectivity is a must in an increasingly virtual economy.

All the while, countless companies have made Maine their home in recent years, relocating to business hubs like FirstPark and creating jobs for local workers. FirstPark is selling lots at a faster pace than ever before, with businesses seeking locations in central Maine for the unparalleled quality of life and unique access to employees.

At nearby Thomas College, the Alfond Institute for Business Innovation is helping local employers by keeping the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation alive. Mentoring and training students, the school grooms central Maine’s next generation of human capital. Similarly, Colby College’s Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) is preparing students for an AI-driven future, positioning Colby as a national hotbed of 21st-century creativity. The Davis Institute’s motto is only fitting: “Silicon Valley needs a breath of fresh Maine air.”

With a statewide unemployment rate of 3.3% (below the national average), the human capital coming here is contributing to an already healthy economy. And they’re coming to a healthy socioeconomic climate writ large, given that Maine is the safest state in America. Our state’s violent crime rate is the lowest in the country, making Vacationland a low-risk destination for job creators, job-seekers, individuals, and families alike.

With the outside world in mind, policymakers and business leaders have been reinventing Maine’s labor market for years. We know how to attract people with our various amenities, and welcome them with open arms. Everyone is welcome here. Organizations like Live and Work in Maine are valuable resources for out-of-staters, hosting a job board and connecting people with Maine-based employers.

Even if employers are based elsewhere, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that much of today’s work can be done remotely. And if it needs to be “on-site” from time to time, Maine’s highways, airports, and transit stations connect us with the entire East Coast — and beyond.

In 2022, Vacationland is your place to work and play. Our time is now. Come join the movement — to Maine.

Peter Mills is executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority. James Dinkle is executive director of FirstPark in Oakland.

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