AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine’s summer tourism season got off to a soggy start this Memorial Day weekend, but the visitors came anyway as businesses catering to them kept their hopes up the season will turn out to be a good one.

“Three good days in August can make up for a bad week in June or May,” Craig Robbins, owner of Bar Harbor Campground, said Sunday.

The dreary weather that’s been looming over Maine since the long holiday weekend started is expected to continue into Monday, with off-and-on drizzle or showers predicted for much of the state.

The National Weather Service said the unsettled weather will continue well into this week.

While many tourists weren’t deterred by the rainy forecast, some changed their plans. About one-fourth of the campers who had reservations at Lily Bay State Park canceled, an official at the Greenville park said.

But those who showed up there and other destinations were for the most part upbeat despite the weather.

While tent camping at the Bar Harbor Campground was down, travelers in their recreational vehicles and travel trailers were glad to get out after a long, bitter winter, said Robbins.

Farther inland, the Bear Mountain Village Campground in Harrison was not full either, but those who were there “still have their campfires going and are having fun,” said a receptionist who declined to give his full name.

And while reservations were down this weekend, they were already starting to pick up for next weekend, the Bear Mountain receptionist said.

State travel marketing this season is designed to point tourists toward inland destinations, such as its mountains and whitewater rafting rivers.

While the lighthouses and lobsters along the coast may be Maine’s most recognizable symbols for potential visitors, ads are trying to show what else the state has to offer, said Vaughn Stinson, executive director of the Maine Tourism Association.

Maine’s tourism industry is considered the state’s largest employer, directly responsible for 77,000 jobs. As the high season begins, more than the weather are a concern for those who derive their livings from the multi-billion-dollar industry.

The slow national economy and looming worries of terrorism are among the concerns for those in the industry.

Despite the dreary weather forecasts, Memorial Day parades and observances were still on schedule in cities and towns across Maine.

In Bangor, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is scheduled to speak at the Cole Land Transportation Museum following Monday’s Memorial Day parade.

State officials said the U.S. and state flags should fly at half-staff Monday from dawn until noon, when they may be raised to full-staff.

AP-ES-05-25-03 1301EDT



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