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Expert predicts strong tourism season

ESCANABA — The U.P. summer tourism season is almost here, and the forecast for upcoming months is looking good, according to Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association (UPTRA) Executive Director Tom Nemacheck.

“The economy is strong, gas prices are low,” said Nemacheck. “It looks like we’ll have a good summer.”

According to Nemacheck, the most popular tourist destinations throughout the U.P. include Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Mackinac Island, Porcupine Mountains in Ontonagon, the over 300 waterfalls scattered throughout the U.P., and historical sites, including Fayette State Park on the Garden ­Peninsula.

Nemacheck explained that 90 percent of the tourists that visit the U.P. come from six to eight hours away from states such as Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“They come from all over,” said Nemacheck, adding although the majority travel from nearby states, tourists also come from all across the United States and internationally.

The U.P.’s tourism is a $1 billion industry, said Nemacheck, adding this is a vital part of keeping the economy strong.

Travelers looking to come into the U.P. may face some road construction delays along the way, but Nemacheck said although this can be frustrating to some tourists, it doesn’t deter them from coming to camp, hike, swim, or visit the attractions throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Although the tourism season hasn’t officially started, Nemacheck said traffic and people coming to the U.P. will increase in the later summer months with holidays and the Upper Peninsula State Fair.

“The real heavy season is July and August,” said Nemacheck, explaining that during July, people come for the 4th of July to visit families as well as enjoy camping or activities on Lake Michigan, Superior, or the Huron shoreline.

Although July and August are the most populated tourist times, Nemacheck said the season continues into fall, as the leaves change on the trees and color tours begin.

“The good news is we carry really well into October and September,” said Nemacheck.

While there may be many other attractions U.P. tourists could visit elsewhere, Nemacheck encourages people to travel within their “backyards” and see all the nature, arts and culture, and history the Upper Peninsula has to offer.

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