Memorial Day is the start of the summer tourist season in Portland and Maine in general. But this year because of the pandemic. that tradition has been turned upside down and the season could be a bust for many small businesses along the usually bustling Portland waterfront.
For the first time in more than 25 years, Captain Bill and Kathy Frappier, managers of Portland Discovery Land & Sea Tours, did not spend the Memorial Day weekend managing this family owned business. The pandemic had turned those traditional plans upside down and inside out.
According to Bill, the trolleys remain in storage and two of their three boats are still out of the water. That’s in part because Bill has been busy fielding tour cancellations and issuing refunds. “Almost all of our group tour businesses have cancelled for 2020,” he wrote in an email to mhn.com recently.
Many of their group tours come from the cruise ships that include Portland as a stop on their trip itinerary. And, of course, that season was cancelled long ago. Recently, Bill said that about 40% of his business comes from contracts and about 60% of his business from off-the-street business.
“Fear around the virus began very early and the overall sentiment from people we are talking to is that they will wait until 2021 to travel,” Bill wrote in the email. “We haven’t made a final decision about how we will operate this season. It won’t be easy, but we will get through it regardless!”
Portland’s waterfront coordinator employed in the Economic Development Office, managed by Greg Mitchell, Bill Needleman, ignored two inquiries as to the effect of the pandemic on the waterfront for publication on this blog.
For more information, please visit www.portlanddiscovery.com.