michigan tourism

Courtesy Legs Inn

 

A steady stream of visitors to resort areas in northern Michigan over the summer exceeded national tourism averages. But local businesses are still hurting from lost revenue during the state’s COVID-19 lockdown, and are now putting their hopes into fall tourism.

Owners of private campgrounds Up North eager to reopen

May 19, 2020
Taylor Wizner

Ahead of the partial reopening of restaurants, bars and retail businesses in northern Michigan, some private campground owners feel that Governor Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t understand the safety of camping.

"Camping is an extremely safe way to travel and get around, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be out there enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air,” said Cathy Kuebler, owner of Traverse City Kampgrounds of America. “It should totally be allowed."

Recreational camping for individuals who otherwise have a primary residence is not permitted at this time.

Pure Michigan campaign

Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s largest tourist destinations, is still over a month away from opening for business due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials say.

Michigan DNR

 

Overnight camping at Michigan state parks won’t be allowed until late June, the state Department of Natural Resources says.

State forest campgrounds and harbors run by the DNR will open on June 10, while overnight camping and shelters at state parks are set to open on June 22.

Most state-maintained parks, trails and dock sites are currently open to the public.

The parks have canceled reservations before June 22, including the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the DNR says. 

Taylor Wizner

This week on Points North, a private prison in Baldwin will hold immigrants convicted of crimes. Some nearby residents argue it will bring jobs to the area, while others want nothing to do with it.

Plus hear about a legal scholar turned writer whose stories brought her back to northern Michigan.

Bronte Cook / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, the U.S. Forest Service tried to ban alcohol on three popular northern Michigan rivers, but they backed off after public outcry. Now they say they will ramp up enforcement and education to curb drunken behavior.

Plus, how the Nordhouse Dunes in the Huron-Manistee National Forests is dealing with summer tourism.

Wikimedia Commons

Update: The U.S. Forest Service says the ban may still go into effect next summer, but it is one of several options they are pursuing.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Northern Michigan University is holding workshops for Upper Peninsula communities on how to practice sustainable tourism.

Outdoor destination travel is growing in northern Michigan, with Marquette County bringing in about $75 million each year.

But NMU Assistant Professor Scott Jordan says some rural communities feel exploited.

"One way to address that is to involve community members in making decisions about the tourism economy. That gives them a sense of power," he says.

With the weather warming up and the sun chasing away memories of the long stretch of cold, icy weather that lasted well into April, many Michigan communities are ramping up for tourist season.

That season is the economic lifeblood of many areas in Michigan, like Ludington, for instance.

Jacob Wheeler

The owner of Sugar Loaf on the Leelanau Peninsula says it will eventually reopen as a four-star, year-round resort.

The former ski resort would have fine dining, a spa, vineyards and in-house wine among other amenities.

Jeff Katofsky bought the property last year. He told people at a public meeting today that he has not made a decision yet about downhill skiing at the resort. He says the ski equipment on site is unusable and beyond repair. 

Airbnb.com

All over the world, vacation rental websites like Airbnnb, VRBO and homeaway.com are changing the way people travel. The websites promise you’ll get a more “authentic” travel experience when you stay in someone’s home instead of a hotel.

Kids across Michigan got packed off to school today, which marks the end of the summer tourism season.

As we start to say goodbye to summer, we wondered how Michigan's travel industry fared this year.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

 

A lawsuit filed Wednesday against a tourism bureau in northern Michigan could affect tourism businesses statewide. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy filed the lawsuit against the Indian River Michigan Tourist Bureau on behalf of an Indian River resort owner. It says the bed fees the bureau charges guests for each rental are unconstitutional. 

Mackinac Bridge Authority

More people took a trip over the Mackinac Bridge in 2015 than in 2014. That means more tourists are heading to the Upper Peninsula.

Bob Sweeney, secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, says traffic over the bridge was declining since its peak year in 1999.

"But in 2015, we had a major uptick," says Sweeney. "Our traffic increased 7.4 percent over the previous year."

Bridge traffic had hit its lowest point around 2008.

Sweeney says tourist trips account for about 80 percent of the bridge’s traffic.

Taylor Ogilvie would really like to make some more snow. He’s the general manager at the Mt. Brighton ski area. So far, conditions haven't been quite right very often.

Standing at the bottom of one of the hills, Ogilvie gestures to the mostly green slopes. "We’re looking at a bunch of water," he says. "Kind of icy, snowy stuff that we put out of our snow guns last night.”

He says they’ve had a few good days, but for the most part, it’s been too warm and too humid for snow-making to work well. So they’ve just been waiting.

We asked you on Facebook. We went outside the studio (*gasp*) and asked people in the street. You tweeted us on Twitter. You told us 70 experiences every Michigander should have at least once. 

These are in no particular order...except to note Sleeping Bear Dunes was, hands down, the most popular response.

Northern Michigan’s tourism industry is huge. Likely this summer alone you or someone you know has headed up that way at least once.

At first blush, that sounds as though all that tourism is nothing but great for the economy. It creates a lot of jobs at businesses like restaurants and hotels.

Ken Bosma

The deer herd in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is so depleted the state is even talking about closing the firearm season this year. It’s just one option listed in a report to the Natural Resources Commission about possible responses to the situation.

Wildlife biologists estimate the population of deer in the UP is at its lowest level in 30 years. Extremely cold winters, particularly in 2014, are to blame, according to the report.