Northwest Michigan tourism shows 'solid' summer season

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Capital News Service
LANSING — In spite of the slowed down economy and fewer seasonal workers, the tourism industry apparently managed to stay afloat in Northwest Michigan this summer.
“We’ve had a solid summer travel season for the most part,” said Cindy Snyder, media relations manager for Travel Michigan, the state’s tourism agency.
Travel Michigan does not survey businesses at the end of the summer, but based on “anecdotal information,” Snyder said the state will meet its goal of a 2 to 3 percent increase in tourism visitors and revenue for this year.
“We are confident we are on track,” Snyder said.
“Tourism businesses did about the same or better than last year,” said Dan Lopez, a labor market analyst with the Michigan Department of Career Development in Traverse City.
Nicole Pelletier is an exception, however.
Pelletier, the sole proprietor of a small antique store in Suttons Bay about 15 miles north of Traverse City, said that her business “did not do well.”
“My average ticket (revenue) is lower than last year,” said Pelletier. But “I don’t panic about it,” she said.
Pelletier partially blamed the economy. Many people who invested their money in the stock market suffered losses. “We had a lot of millionaires on paper,” she said. “Now the money is gone.”
Because of the slowed-down economy most people traveled closer to home this summer, Snyder said.
“Business and convention travel have been hit the hardest,” she said.
Many seasonal workers, who normally come up to Northwest Michigan for work, were left without jobs because of the low cherry harvest this year.
Lack of seasonal workers was also a challenge for tourism businesses to stay profitable.
“Instead of the usual 100 to 120 people we had to hire only 35 people full time,” said Allen Steimel, general manager of Leelanau Fruit Co.
Most of the businesses are lucky if they met last year’s numbers, Pelletier said. But other business owners disagree.
Hansen’s Market, a food store in Suttons Bay, anticipated a decline in revenue but owner Dave Hansen said revenue was up this year.
“We did great,” said Rachel Peplinski, manager of the clothes store Lima Bean down the road from Pelletier’s antique store. She attributed the success to the variety of goods offered in the store.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism

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