Will weather put chill on tourism?

ESCANABA — Now that Memorial Day has taken place and June has arrived, the Upper Peninsula’s summer tourism season has begun. Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula Travel & Recreation Association Tom Nemacheck said local weather conditions will play a major role in determining how strong tourism will be in the area over the next several months.

According to Nemacheck, early signs have been encouraging for local tourism this summer. Advance lodging reservations in some areas have been strong and the economy has been doing well recently, with reasonable gas prices and low unemployment rates helping to motivate potential tourists.

However, one of the biggest factors behind tourism levels in the U.P. is weather. Nemacheck said the part weather plays in determining the fate of tourism locally was demonstrated last month.

“The weather wasn’t good, so it’s been a very difficult May,” he said.

This was not a major issue in and of itself, as the area’s tourism industry is used to dealing with subpar business in May. Tourism during the month primarily consists of spur-of-the-moment trips, which Nemacheck said are heavily dependent on weather.

If weather during the summer of 2019 is relatively warm and dry in the U.P., Nemacheck said he expects tourism numbers for the season to be unchanged from or slightly higher than those seen during the summer of 2018.

Last summer was a very good one for local tourism, Nemacheck said. Additionally, some parts of the U.P. have seen significant growth in tourism over the past three or four years.

Because of this, tourism numbers staying flat for the summer of 2019 would still be a positive outcome.

“We don’t expect sustained, dramatic growth forever,” Nemacheck said.

If the summer of 2019 ends up being rainy and cool in the area, tourism levels are expected to be flat at best. Tourism could even decrease if too many weekends are affected by wet, cold weather.

“If we see four or five bad weekends, that’s enough to impact the whole summer,” Nemacheck said.

Nemacheck said his expectations for tourism this summer were based on the findings of several organizations involved with travel predictions, including the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association.

For more information about tourism in the U.P., visit www.uptravel.com.