‘#BoycottMaine’: LePage Controversy Keeps Visitors Away

Gov. Paul LePage's recent controversies could be costing Maine money, now that several tourists have cancelled trips to express their disapproval.

The hashtag "#BoycottMaine" gained traction on social media last week, after LePage made international news for making racially charged remarks about drug dealers and leaving an obscene voicemail for a lawmaker.

"I was repulsed," said Collin Rees, a resident of Washington D.C., with plans to travel to Bar Harbor for Labor Day weekend. He decided to cancel his trip and hike in Virginia instead.

"I saw a chance to send a message and have a public conservation about this," said Rees.

Tourism officials report receiving a handful of cancellations due to the Governor's controversy, but say it represents an extremely small fraction of the millions of visitors to Maine each year.

The Maine Tourism Association's CEO, Chris Fogg, reports about 34 million tourists to Maine each year. Fogg said he has received about 10 emails from people concerned about visiting Maine due to LePage, and only a handful have actually cancelled trips.

"It was certainly a disappointment when we had a handful of visitors who were upset by comments, but with that said, our numbers look extremely strong for the fall tourism season," said Lynn Tillotson, Executive Director of the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She said the CVB has not received any convention or even cancellations due to Gov. LePage.

But some worry this seemingly small boycott could last for years.

"I still want to come to Maine," said Chris D'Amore, who decided against visiting Maine this fall after LePage's latest controversy. He said he will visit once LePage leaves office, which will most likely take two years.

"I think there has to be some consequences," said D'Amore, "and those sadly end up being financial."

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