Knox and Waldo are two of five counties in Maine that saw a drop in tourism during summer months this year.

Overall, summer tourism dropped an estimated 32% statewide in 2020, compared with 2019, according to Maine Office of Tourism preliminary data released Oct. 29.

The report was part of the state agency's quarterly stakeholders presentation. In a video, Steve Lyons, director, Maine Office of Tourism, presented the data, saying it was no surprise visitation in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic was not at the levels it has been in the past. He said this year was also unusual in that the vast majority of visitors came from Maine.

Knox, Waldo, Cumberland, Androscoggin and Kennebec counties saw declines in tourism, according to mobile phone tracking trends, while other counties saw increases or remained flat.

Rural northern counties seeing increases were Franklin, Hancock, Lincoln, Oxford, Somerset, Piscataquis and Washington.

During the summer tourism season, travelers from all but a handful of states were required to either quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Maine or have negative results on a recent COVID-19 test. New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey residents were exempt from Maine's COVID-19 rules, but Massachusetts was not exempted until Sept. 23.

Statewide taxable sales for the lodging industry were the hardest hit sector from May through August 2020.

Lodging saw a 78% decline from 2019, according to a report from Smith Travel Research.

Month-by-month occupancy rates were down 50% or more May through July.

In May 2020, occupancy was 21%, down from 56% in 2019. In June 2020, occupancy was 28%, down from 70% last year. July 2020 occupancy was 45%, compared with 81% last year.

August 2020 occupancy rebounded to 63%. August 2019 occupancy was 86%.

Restaurant taxable sales were down 34%. Other retail taxable sales were up 43% for the summer, compared with last year. Lyons said these were primarily online sales.

While visitors were in Maine, 58% participated in food, beverage and culinary activities during their trip. More than two in five visitors engaged in sightseeing, water activities and outdoor activities.

Lyons said 82% of overnight and day trips came from seven states, with majority of visitors from Maine (35%). Of these seven states, Massachusetts residents were 15% of all visitors, followed by New Hampshire 14%, New York 6%, Connecticut 5%, Florida 4% and Vermont 3%.

He said there are reports of sporting goods sales of kayaks and bicycles increasing, and similar reports about people buying skis and snowshoes.

Also during the presentation, Charlene Williams from Marshall Communications talked about the state's summer public relations campaign. The agency hosted 11 media tours and 207 stories about Maine were placed in various media. These pieces saw 4.1 million views, and 17.9 thousand shares.

The Maine Office of Tourism has hired BVK advertising agency to run a winter campaign from November through March.