Winter tourism brings in cold cash

ESCANABA — While winter in the Upper Peninsula is far from over, Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association (UPTRA) Tom Nemacheck said things have been going well for the area’s winter tourism season so far.

The most important factor in determining local winter tourism levels is weather conditions. Nemacheck said the season got off to a somewhat rocky start.

“The cold weather from Christmas to New Year’s hurt us a little bit,” he said. This primarily caused issues for skiing — one of the most popular winter activities among visitors to the area, along with snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.

However, since the new year began, temperatures in the U.P. have generally become more moderate.

“Other than that, the winter is shaping up excellent,” Nemacheck said.

According to Nemacheck, snow cover plays a crucial role in driving winter tourism to the U.P. This winter has been ideal in terms of snow cover for the area.

“This year, right now, we have good snow cover everywhere,” he said.

Nemacheck also noted the economy in the Midwest (where most visitors to the U.P. come from) has been doing well lately, and that almost all other factors are in place to allow for a strong tourism season in the region this winter.

“It’s all (going to) be weather-dependent from here on in,” he said.

Because of this, Nemacheck said he would like the region’s snow cover to stick around through the next few months.

“If we get the whole month of March with good snow, that would be terrific,” he said.

He also said he is hoping to avoid other forms of precipitation in the near future.

“We need to stay away from rain,” Nemacheck said.

In the meantime, Nemacheck said he remains optimistic about tourism in the U.P. this winter.

“We’re happy to have the season doing as well as it is,” he said.