By KIRSTEN RINTELMANN
Capital News Service
LANSING – The hard-hit recreation and tourism industry is working to reassure travelers that safety measures are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 450 businesses have committed themselves through the Pure Michigan Pledge program to uphold the safety of community members and travelers.
For some, such as Ludington House Bed and Breakfast in Ludington, it’s a way to reassure potential guests at a time when people are traveling less and room occupancy rates are down.
The program outlines measures for the travel industry to take to “ensure a safe environment for travelers,” including following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, cleaning high-touch surfaces and masks.
Pure Michigan, the tourism promotion arm of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said it established the steps with input from more than 350 businesses across the state.
“The tourism industry came together and decided to create this pledge to make sure visitors and community members know that these businesses are taking the appropriate safety procedures seriously and doing what is necessary to keep everyone safe,” Otie McKinley, the MEDC media and communications manager, said.
Among those taking the Pure Michigan Pledge is the Ludington House Bed and Breakfast.
Ellen Alderink and her husband have been the innkeepers since 2014 and are its fourth owners. Built in 1878, the Queen Ann Victorian house was converted into a bed-and-breakfast in 1987.
“What first got me to take the pledge was a newsletter announcement from the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association,” Alderink said. “Our association is good at keeping us up to date on travel issues and where politics and travel overlap.”
Safety measures not only protect the staff at the Ludington House Bed and Breakfast, but also their guests, she said. The wearing of masks is required in essential areas, hand sanitizer is provided and breakfast tables are 6 feet apart.
“We want people to feel comfortable, to feel safe, and know the precautions are being taken,” Alderink said.
Rooms are thoroughly cleaned between guests, she said.
“Ventilation is the big deal. Opening the windows is probably the most important,” Alderink said. “We let the rooms sit for an hour. We use air disinfectant spray like Lysol in the rooms and let fans on and air it out. We are also doing a lot more laundry than we used to and drying our blankets on high heat.”
The inn’s occupancy rate has dropped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alderink said it was down 14% last fall and is down 18% so far this winter.
“The worst of it was before this past fall which was in April, May and June,” she said. “But it wasn’t absolute zero. It could have been a lot worse.”
For businesses that have taken the Pure Michigan Pledge, there is no expiration date for their participation, MEDC’s McKinley said.
“There are compliance procedures or audit processes to ensure that these businesses are staying consistent to the pledge they took,” he said. “This is an opt-in, and those that are committed to the pledge show their commitment publicly.”