OXFORD — A total of 4.8 million visitors came to this region last year bringing in $670 million, Dina Jackson, marketing coordinator for tourism for the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments told the Oxford Board of Selectmen.
Jackson, who was asked to come to the meeting after officials expressed interest in promoting local tourism as an economic driver, spoke with the board at its July 19 meeting on current efforts and programs that support regional tourism.
“They invited me to show them how tourism can be a part of the economic fabric of the community,” she said later.
While saying tourism is not the “saving grace,” for a town like Oxford, it is an important source of income for the region.
“They bring in new dollars and then they go home,” she said of tourists.
Oxford is part of AVCOG’s Region 8, which stretches from the Sebago Lake region to the Coburn Gore on the Canadian border and includes the Lewiston/Auburn area to the Farmington and Rangeley area.
Jackson said tourism research from the Maine Office of Tourism shows that the average age of tourists in this region is 41 and tourists have an average income of $90,000. Nearly two-thirds are college educated and half are married.
While previously the trend was to have visitors from the mid Atlantic states such as New Jersey and New York, Jackson said most are now coming from with in New England. Massachusetts, 25 percent, Maine (outside of the region) 17 percent and about 13 percent from N.H.
About a quarter of tourists come from the mid Atlantic states, most notably New York. Canadians are also frequent
Overnight visitors to this region are looking for outdoor and water activities, she said.
One of the big draws to Maine is the summer camps in Maine. Many tourists had childhood experiences at Maine summer camps and want to recreate that for their children.
So what can Oxford officials do with this information?
Jackson said they should work with local Chamber of Commerce and AVCOG on promoting their towns.
Jackson stressed that town does not need to “reinvent the wheel.” Instead they should use their local Chamber of Commerce offices whose job is to promote the area.
There are other no cost or low cost ways to drive tourists to Oxford such as improved signage.
Jackson said later that she has also been asked to look at the town’s website to address areas that might be improved to drive tourists and/or residents to town.