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Column: Tourism outlook, Delta County

ESCANABA — Have you been thankful for living in the U.P. these past few weeks? I have. As measures are enforced to protect everyone’s health, it has given us all time to think about how lucky we are to live here. Every day I am thankful for being surrounded by trees and freshwater in “God’s Country” and grateful for the wonderful community that supports our lifestyle.

We have amazing people and businesses that make our hometowns a special place to live. Right now, everyone is facing challenging times as we navigate the future and this new normal. Our businesses are the fabric of the community providing jobs, essential services, our favorite foods and drinks, entertainment, and much more. Currently, a lot of businesses that support our way of life are being pushed to the breaking point and will continue to face massive challenges in the foreseeable future. Even with financial aid packages and community assistance, individuals are losing jobs, and uncertainty lies ahead for local companies. Entrepreneurs are putting the physical health of this community and their family and friends ahead of profits right now. Unfortunately, it may lead to permanent closures of businesses that contribute significantly to what we love about this community.

The active summer tourism season supports many of these excellent businesses throughout the year. Summer is a critical time that businesses depend on to function year-round. We have seen significant growth in tourism locally over the past few years as the economy grows, and many people around the globe embrace travel. It seems everyone wants to document their travels on social media and loves posting pictures of their adventures to places with natural beauty like the Upper Peninsula. This popular trend has helped raise awareness about the available opportunities in Delta County. These experiences will likely attract visitors once again as travel restrictions are lifted, and people look to take trips to destinations like ours.

Over the past few weeks, I have been participating in online meetings with a variety of businesses and organizations that are looking at what the future may hold for tourism. The outcome is not looking good for many sectors of this industry. In a positive light, surveys indicate that people are going to want to get out of their house and embrace certain types of travel. People are likely going to change their travel habits for a while and forgo international travel and domestic air travel for places they can drive to with fewer crowds. In the most recent data from destination analysts, going to the beach is identified as the first trip people want to take when they can travel again. Other popular trip plans include going to see family, relaxing in parks, hiking, and shopping. People will be looking to travel to communities like ours to enjoy fresh air in the parks, relax on the beaches, hike in the woods, and buy goods and services from our businesses in the community. This influx of tourism will be critical to sustaining our community. I am sure we are all excited to see friends and family that want to enjoy the special place that we live in.

When travel picks up, and visitors begin coming to Delta County again, our businesses will need this support. They will take the appropriate health measures to protect

See COLUMN page 6B

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