When you think of Maine, you imagine our beautiful rocky coastline, our majestic sprawling forests, our thriving cities and towns, our lakes, our camps, our beaches, and our mountains. That's why more than 21.8 million visitors spent one or more nights in Maine on tourism-related trips in 2019, adding more than $6.5 billion to Maine's economy and generating over $520 million in tax revenue to the state. One in six jobs in the state of Maine is in tourism.
But right now, this backbone of the state's economy is facing an existential threat in the face of COVID-19. According to the US Travel Association, total travel spending in the US is expected to drop by 45% by the end of this year. Overall travel industry unemployment nationwide is a staggering 51%. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to any drop in sales.
That is why the Maine Tourism Relief Fund, Founded by Poland Spring and the Maine Tourism Association was created to provide relief to small businesses and their employees experiencing great hardship as a result of business closures in the state due to COVID-19. Fiscal sponsorship to this fund is being provided by the Curran Homestead, Inc, a registered non-profit.
Through this fund, grants will be made to small businesses based in the state of Maine who work in tourism-related industries for companies with less than 50 people who have been impacted by coronavirus. It also helps their employees who have experienced a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Grants will be awarded to those who meet eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the Maine Tourism Association.
When you make a contribution to the Maine Tourism Relief Fund, your donation will be collected with similar contributions and applied directly to small businesses and workers in the most vulnerable sector of Maine's largest industry. As the Maine Tourism Association is donating all administrative costs to this endeavor, 100% of the Fund’s proceeds will be applied to providing grants to employees and employers demonstrating financial impact from COVID-19.
Without our support, the small bed and breakfasts, the local restaurants, the registered guides, the yacht crusises, the mom and pop retail shops, and all of the other small businesses that give Maine its character and charm will not survive this crisis. Your support will help keep Maine tourism viable for generations to come! Please donate to the Maine Tourism Relief Fund today.