Author

Marc Edwards

Date of Award

2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Wilbur LaPage

Second Committee Member

John Daigle

Third Committee Member

Stephen Reiling

Abstract

Maine's natural resources have been attracting visitors to the State for more than 150 years, from artists drawn to the beauty and wildness of the coast, such as Thomas Cole in 1844, to Henry David Thoreau's well-documented trip to Katahdin popularized in his collection of essays The Maine Woods. Early artists like Cole lodged with local farmers and Thoreau's journeys into the Maine woods were aided by Native American and local guides. These early artists and adventurers could be said to be among the first nature-based tourists in Maine, while those who provided lodging and guide services were among the first nature-based tourism entrepreneurs in the state. This tourism attraction continues today, with nature-based tourism accounting for a sizeable share of Maine's overall tourism market. In 2000, twenty-one percent of the 4.3 million visitors who came to Maine on overnight marketable trips cited nature-based tourism as a motivation for their visit, nearly twice the national average of eleven percent. Through interviews with selected nature-based tourism entrepreneurs in Maine and a one-day symposium in which these entrepreneurs interacted with State agency representatives, extension and university specialists, and others, descriptive information was gathered on: common characteristics of this sampling of nature-based tourism enterprises, common concerns of the selected nature-based tourism, and perceived policy needs to address sustainability, growth, development, and support of the nature-based tourism industry in Maine. Nature-based tourism enterprises can be seen as "guardians" of Maine's 150 year-old image as a nature-based tourism destination. While the first century and a half was based primarily on consumptive nature-based tourism (hunting and fishing), today there is clearly a shift to non-consumptive uses (canoeing, birding, and hiking, for example). As guardians of the new, non-consumptive nature-based tourism image, Maine's nature-based tourism enterprises face many challenges. Through a better understanding of the nature-based tourism industry and the challenges it is faced with, clear and consistent policies can be developed to protect the industry, the natural resources on which it depends, and the State's image as a nature-based tourism destination.

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