Northern Michigan: Festive tourism gears as coronavirus spreading fades

Published on : Monday, May 31, 2021

As Memorial Day holiday weekend nears, the tourism officials in Northern Michigan believe the return of high profile events in the region will bode well for the important summer season.

The summer tourism season, which unofficially runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend in September, is considered crucial for many businesses that depend on those profits to sustain operations during the winter.

As summer nears, many are feeling safer and more confident about travel as the coronavirus weakens its grip. According to Destination Analysts, a travel and tourism market research firm based in San Francisco, 73.4% of American travelers have or will get vaccinated against COVID-19. Of those who have been inoculated, 87.3% are more comfortable with the idea of traveling. Overall, nearly two-thirds of American travelers believe the pandemic situation will improve in the U.S. in the next month; only 8.6% anticipate it will worsen.

Linda Hoath, executive director of the Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitors Bureau said that they feel confident that travellers are hungry to travel, especially in Northern Michigan. They have a great region that’s a little less dense than other areas, and an area that’s easily drivable for travellers from throughout the Midwest.

In Gaylord, Traverse City and other communities in Northern Michigan, the summer will see the return of signature events, festivals and concerts that were postponed last year because of COVID-19. As vaccination rates increase, virus cases and hospitalizations are declining prompting Michigan to lift just about all pandemic related restrictions by July 1.

The Big Ticket Festival, a Christian-themed music event, is set to return to the Otsego County Fairgrounds from July 9-11. Organizers anticipate selling about 8,000 tickets, down from 10,000-15,000 in previous years.

In Traverse City, the National Cherry Festival will resume and is scheduled for July 3-10. The festival will feature virtual events to replace some in-person festivities, including the Porch Parade and the GT Pie Company’s Virtual Make and Bake, as well as some socially distanced celebrations. The air show and concerts have been canceled.

In Sault Ste. Marie, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city have re-engineered the Soo Locks 2021 Engineer’s Day on June 25. The city will host an event focusing on downtown city merchants, vendors, the Soo Locks and water safety.

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