By SOPHIA BRANDT
Capital News Service
LANSING – Fueled by inflation and the pandemic recovery, travel costs are bound to be more expensive this year than in the past.
“One of the top issues to travelers right now is inflation, the high cost of things. They are concerned about their own financial situations,” said David Lorenz, vice president of Pure Michigan.
For example, in 2021 to 2022, U.S. retail food costs had the largest annual increase in more than 40 years, rising by 11%, according to the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress.
The Department of Natural Resources announced an increase in annual state park recreation passports from $12 to $13 as of March 1, the first increase in three years.
Annual passes for nonresidents increased by $3 on Jan. 1.
Gas prices have also been on the rise.
Michigan prices have been slowly increasing over the past month, according to AAA.
In March, the average price for a gallon of regular gas was $3.499. At the end of the first week of April, the price was $3.606 per gallon. Mid-grade and premium follow the same trend.
Moving into the summer, it may be important for travelers to look for deals on travel-related expenses, Lorenz said.
“The private sector will make accommodations to attract the number of travelers they need. Travelers should be looking for deals and discounts and comparing prices,” he said.
He also recommended shopping around before hitting the road.
“You might not go specifically where you intended, but you might find a great deal in another community, hotel or restaurant nearby,” he said.
Another way to reduce costs is traveling in the off season.
“Go at the slower times of the year, travel during the weekday. You’ll find better deals on hotels and attractions during these times,” Lorenz said.
The Pure Michigan website offers deals and packages for holidays like Mother’s Day and Labor Day.
Deals like these are a way to combat the increasing prices of many attractions.
Ludington House Bed and Breakfast offers deals and packages, mostly in their off season. During a March Madness deal, Innkeeper Ellen Alderink said she noticed an increase of visitors caused by the hotel’s buy one get one half off for a weeknight stay.
They also offer special events such as a knitting event in November, and a Christmas event in December. These events allow the bed and breakfast to continue pulling in business during the off season, Alderink said.
Ludington House Bed and Breakfast had one of their best years in 2022.
“Everything was up last year,” she said.
Alderink said the increase in visitors may be because people finally felt comfortable traveling locally.
Lorenz said, “We think this rise was pushed by the need to get out after being in the home for so long, and costs being low.”
Now, after money saved during the pandemic has been spent and with inflation on the rise, Pure Michigan still expects people to get out and travel around the state.
Lorenz said people may spend less money on their travel or go for a shorter time, but still intend to travel.