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New Maine hospitality association announced at summit 

 

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — It is official. The unification of the Maine Restaurant Association and Maine Innkeepers Association is underway. 

 

At the first, annual Maine Hospitality Summit on Tuesday, the trade group’s CEO Steve Hewins announced the news. “We need to speak as a more unified voice,” he explained to assembled members from both camps gathered at The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport. “I call it a merger, but it’s actually a new association.”

 

Coming on the heels of a decisive vote last week by the restaurant association board and the innkeepers’ directors in September, Hewins laid out the framework for the new, soon-to-be-named, single non-profit group representing hotels, diners, inns and restaurants across the state.

 

“As one voice and one industry we are stronger together,” Hewins told the sold out crowd.

 

The move toward unification has been gestating for some time. A stronger, more focused association will give both groups more clout, said Hewins.

 

And the numbers back up the merger.

 

In 2016, restaurant revenue in Maine reached $2.6 billion and lodging tallied $950 million, according to the Maine Revenue Services. The hospitality sector created 77,000 jobs last year and generated $300 million in sales tax.

 

As members from both groups gathered to learn by day and unwind at night, the summit took on a celebratory feel from the get-go. A cake was rolled out at the Nonantum Resort and champagne passed around at the Monday afternoon kickoff. 

 

Keynote speaker Christina Miranda, principal at Redpoint Marketing PR in New York, elevated the moment. “This is inspirational, you have two groups coming together, new beginnings, new opportunities, new adventures and a shared mission,” she said. “It really feels like a marriage.” 

 

This spring the merged groups will announce a new name and website. “We are positioned to lead the industry forward,” said Hewins.


 

 

 




 



 

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