Freeport agency gets $10K to lure Canadians

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FREEPORT — The organization that works with local businesses to promote the town as a travel destination has received a grant from the Maine Office of Tourism to attract more Canadians to the area.

Freeport USA received $10,000 from the Office of Tourism, and agreed to match the grant 100 percent.

The state has been awarding tourism enterprise marketing grants since 2014 to support focused tourism marketing projects. The grants, which range from $2,500 to $10,000, are awarded biannually; awards totaling $112,500 to seven organizations were announced Jan. 26.

“We’re really excited to be expanding our reach into Canada,” Kelly Edwards, executive director of Freeport USA, said. “It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do for awhile.”

The organization will be launching advertisements focused on Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Ads promoting Freeport as a travel destination will be placed in Canadian newspapers and publications and at Canadian travel trade shows. Ads will also be placed on Facebook.

According to the Maine Office of Tourism, in 2015 the state saw a decline of 13 percent in the number of Canadian visitors compared to 2014. It was the second year in a row the number of visitors went down.

One reason is the exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollars.

“Though Canada remains a core travel market for Maine, the prolonged decline of the exchange rate continues to impact Canadians’ purchasing power in Maine,” the tourism office stated. “Continued marketing to this core market can help to improve the levels of Canadian visitation when conditions return to a more favorable economic climate for Canadians.” 

The office also said shopping is a top interest of Canadian tourists visiting Maine. 

“It makes sense to get (Freeport) out there as one of the best shopping destinations in New England,” Edwards said. “We want people to know that when they come to Freeport their dollar will go far.”

Freeport USA has received four grants from the Office of Tourism in recent years. The organization received $10,000 last year, which was used to market the town on YouTube.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.