ESCANABA – The start of the summer season is looming on the horizon, and businesses and recreation areas throughout the region are gearing up to welcome tourists looking to explore the area. The entire Upper Peninsula proves to be a popular tourist destination for those seeking a milder summer climate with an abundance of outdoor activities.
“Delta County has hundreds of miles of shoreline and tourists love to take in all that comes with all the fresh water and natural environment around us,” Robert Micheau, CEO of Visit Escanaba, said. “They frequent our beaches, our trails, our parks…anything associated with outdoor recreation.”
Visit Escanaba, the destination marketing organization for Delta County under Travel Michigan, has discovered that Delta County is the perfect stop for tourists traveling to UP during their summer vacation.
“[A] the great attraction of the region is our restaurants and our hotels,” said Micheau. “Delta County is an ideal stopover for tourists looking to take advantage of local retail opportunities in restaurants and shopping.”
Of the many outdoor recreation areas located in Delta County, Fayette Historic State Park on the Garden Peninsula is the most popular site for families and photographers. In addition to the historical aspects of the park, trails and campgrounds are available for those who want to spend some extra quality time in the area.
Beyond outdoor activities, Delta County also offers a number of summer events.
“The UP State Fair is the biggest event on the Upper Peninsula, so it’s always the big draw,” said Micheau. “There are also lots of festivals and farmers markets…which draw people here in the summer.”
Tom Nemacheck, executive director of the Upper Peninsula Travel & Recreation Association (UPTRA), provides insight into the summer tourist season and the alluring nature of UP for non-natives.
“Our outdoor product and our hobbies are what attract people the most”, said Nemacheck. “Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has been the number one tourist attraction for at least 10 years on the Upper Peninsula. It’s been a repeat success for the tourism industry.
While the northern shores of the Upper Peninsula continue to be the biggest draw, there are several outdoor spaces dotted around the UP that tourists enjoy throughout the summer months. Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise Township, the Porcupine Mountains in northwest UP, and the Keeweenaw Peninsula also draw tourists, hikers, and travelers to the area.
The educational and historical features of the Upper Peninsula also attract tourists. Although museums are usually not the only reason families come to UP during summer vacation, they are an amenity that accompanies the vacation experience and subsequently generates excitement. money for the local economy.
“The Keeweenaw Peninsula is more than an outdoor product,” said Nemacheck. “Keeweenaw National Historical Park is dedicated in large part to the copper industry and mining history that defines the area.”
The Upper Peninsula is a destination primarily for tourists, which means people who are within 10-12 hours of UP choose to drive here for summer tourist activities. With the Mackinaw Bridge to the east, summer tourists come primarily from lower Michigan, as well as bordering states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio.
With visitors choosing the car, the recent rise in gas prices should have an effect on the success of this summer tourist season. While the UPTRA expects the tourism industry to be impacted by the level of inflation and petrol prices, it does not currently know how big this impact will be.
“It’s still too early to tell how the price of gasoline will affect the summer tourist season, but we know it will impact people’s attitudes towards travel,” he added. said Nemacheck. “When deciding whether or not to come to UP, or how often they plan to travel during the summer months, people will change their minds because of gas prices.”
Inflation and rising prices are putting pressure on families across the country, especially in terms of daily expenses and average family food budgets. These monetary constraints should lead to optional expenses, such as travel, which are not of the utmost importance to people at the moment.
“Inflation has a major impact [on the travel market] because discretionary spending is reduced for potential customers as they pay more for everyday goods,” said Micheau. “However, demand is so high for people wanting to visit the Upper Peninsula right now, so we’re likely to see more travelers here this summer than in previous years.”
According to Micheau, Delta County travel demand is extremely high for the 2022 summer season, which currently exceeds 2021 travel demand.
“If the trend continues as it has been, we should see sustained growth in tourism for the foreseeable future,” said Micheau.
With the influx of travelers during the summer months, tourism will continue to play a vital role in the success of the Upper Peninsula’s localized economy.
“In the Upper Peninsula, $2 billion is spent each year due to tourism. So whatever happens, the amount of money brought in by tourism benefits our economy tremendously,” said Nemacheck. “Tourism provides a ton of jobs and employs thousands of people in the Upper Peninsula. These jobs make our economy so much stronger.