Maybe you can’t imagine traveling anytime soon. Or maybe visiting another place—any other place—is all you can think about right now. Either way, summer’s almost here.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic, summer tourism will likely look a bit different this year, and businesses at popular destinations like Mackinac Island are preparing for a season that has already been affected by the ongoing health crisis, even before the island opens to the public.
Mackinac usually opens around the end of April. But not this year.
“A lot of the restaurants and hotels are looking towards the end of June to open,” Liz Ware, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island, said. “We know that the occupancy won’t be at the same levels it has been in the past, and that's okay—that gives more space for people to move around.”
Ware says the resort tends to be nearly full June through September. But with Michigan’s stay-home order in place until May 28, Mackinac is currently closed to visitors, and Ware says bookings have been slow for the summer.
Ware says she would typically be on Mackinac this time of year, but she's at her home in southeast Michigan.
“Mission Point is known for its gardens, and we have this one hill—we call it ‘Daffodil Hill,’ and it’s in full bloom right now, and it’s really hard for us not to be there to see it and to share it with the rest of the world,” she says.
Ware says the island's community of permanent residents and business owners is close-knit. She she says's it's been hard to see the pandemic’s impact on the island already. She thinks some businesses will have a hard time weathering a deep recession.
“You know, Mackinac Island, the businesses there—99% of them are family-owned,” Ware said. “People have owned these businesses for a long time. We are a community. We are all working together, we’re all talking together.”