Bay Has $700 Million Economic Impact

Tourism and Marine Resources Are Key Sectors of Coastal Economy


The Casco Bay region is home to one quarter of Maine’s population and one third of total jobs statewide, despite containing just 4.4 percent of the state’s land area. Tourism and recreation make up 80 percent of the jobs in Casco Bay’s coastal economy. The living resources sector makes up a smaller share but is central to the Bay’s identity. The fishing industry’s cherished cultural traditions are a way of life for many Maine families and represent the coastal identity that brings so many visitors to Maine.
A clam harvester digging for clams in a large mudflat
Lobstering and clamming are important traditions and livelihoods, and the fishing industry supports tourism. Photo: Jerry Monkman,
Two boys hold tiny oysters at an oyster farm
The marine aquaculture industry in Casco Bay is growing rapidly. Long-term leases have increased by 75 percent from 21 to 37 since early 2017, and Limited Purpose Aquaculture leases rose from 152 to 165. Photo: Quahog Bay Conservancy
Shipping containers and cranes on the Portland waterfront
Icelandic shipping company Eimskip’s North American headquarters is located at Portland’s International Marine Terminal. Photo: Jerry Monkman,


Eighty Percent of Bay-Related Jobs Are in Tourism and Recreation

A 2017 report determined that there were 18493 bay-related jobs. Eighty percent of the jobs were in tourism and recreation.
Gross Regional Product is 703 million dollars. The top sector is tourism and recreation, which accounts for 70 percent of GRP.
Note: Boat building excludes Bath Iron Works. Source: The Economic Contribution of Casco Bay (CBEP 2017). Report produced by Maine Center for Business and Economic Research.

Cruise Ship Visits and Passengers

People gather in front of a cruise ship docked along the Portland waterfront.
Photo: Corey Templeton
Cruise ship visits to Portland increased from 2015 to 2019, with passenger numbers rising even faster, reflecting larger ships. Source: City of Portland

Casco Bay Ferry Ridership

Annual ferry ridership increased from approximately 1 million in 2015 to 1.1 million in 2018 and 2019.
Ferry ridership increased from 2015 to 2019, with more than a million riders annually. Source: Casco Bay Lines
Data from 2018 show a peak of approximately two hundred thousand ferry riders per month in July and August, and a low of less than fifty thousand per month in December through March.
Ferry ridership follows a seasonal trend, peaking in summer months.
A ferry in Casco Bay
Photo: Jerry Monkman,
A ferry in Casco Bay
Photo: Jerry Monkman,

Successes & challenges

  • Marine ecosystems are expected to be affected by climate change in numerous ways, and the health of the regional economy is highly dependent upon the health of Casco Bay.
  • People visiting Casco Bay may not always make the connection between the importance of clean water, protected habitat, and ample access, to the quality of their recreational experiences. How do we help them make that connection?
  • How do people without extensive resources and access to the Bay experience it? Providing adequate access to recreational opportunities for all is important for nurturing personal connections to the Bay and building public support for its protection.
  • Impacts from the COVID-19 crisis illuminate how dependent the local economy is on the tourism industry.