Has your summer tourism season lived up to expectations? How does it compare so far with last year?

District Voices

Published September 1, 2003  | September 2003 issue

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Editor's note: Interviews were conducted in late July and early August.

[It] hasn't lived up to expectations yet. We're still actually tracking just a tad behind last year. But we're right now very, very busy here in the thick of the summer. We're hoping that what we call the meat of the season is really going to be strong. And every day we're catching up. ... We're anticipating a strong fall to offset a weak spring.
David Zeilinger, General Manager
The Inn at Stonecliffe and The Harbour View Inn—
Mackinac Island, Mich.

I believe that it has lived up to our expectations. In fact, I think that it has exceeded the initial expectations. [That is] the feeling I got from the businesses—the members that we deal with day to day. Everyone seems very, very busy. Lodging has been very hard to get in the area—[for] people coming up at the last minute-because a lot of the places are booked, which is fantastic. Businesses are booming ... Main Street is very busy.
Katie Farrow, Assistant Director
Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce—Hayward, Wis.

Statistically, the Black Hills has had a fabulous tourism season, more than living up to any expectation most might have had. For example, visitors to Pactola Visitor Center in the Mystic Ranger District near Rapid City have increased anywhere from 20 percent to 75 percent over last year on any given day. Our wish is that no matter how many people come, their memories of their stay prompt them to be glad they made the trip.
Gwen Ernst-Ulrich, Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Black Hills National Forest Supervisor's Office—Custer, S.D.

Yes, [the summer tourism season has lived up to expectations]. It's actually on par with last year. I'm right on the Gunflint Trail, and I'd say the driving business is a little bit down. But in terms of business in general, business is good.
Debbie Mark
Seagull Outfitters—Grand Marais (Boundary Waters), Minn.

The last three years [have been tough]—the last one with the economy, the two before with fires. We were probably on track to have our best season on record. Business was about 20 percent to 25 percent above the same time the year before. We were geared up for what normally [is] our busiest time—July 25 to Aug. 12. Then on the afternoon of July 23rd I was going out to the river and saw the fire [that has since devastated the Glacier area]. From that moment ... we went from tracking to be our best [season] ever to probably our worst in many, many years. In the first three days I figure we lost over $50,000. I know that now we don't have the money to make it through the winter because we rely on [this] 60-day period. It's just so sad ... and then think of the trickle-down. I mean when you think that they've evacuated the whole west side of Glacier National Park ... huge hotels, campgrounds. ... Think of the food purveyors, gasoline guy, RV renter, the outdoor stores. ... We were just reaching our peak and then for this to hit ... it's like an atom bomb.

All the predictions ... were right on track. Americans were ready to visit their national parks, ready to stay close to home ... have family vacations, and that is exactly what our business does. So it was all on track [but then] just because of Mother Nature, it all fell apart.
Sally Thompson, Owner
Glacier Raft Company and Outdoor Center—West Glacier, Mont.
70 Employees

Yes, we've been having a very successful summer season so far in 2003. The North Dakota scenery is looking great. We had a lot of rain this spring and Mother Nature has been on our side so we've had good weather. ... Our tourism numbers are holding steady from last year and up a little bit. We are seeing increased visitation along the Lewis and Clark trail and, of course, this year the bicentennial launched in January. So we're very excited to see those numbers in our state parks as well as [at] attractions along the trail.
Rachel Retterath, Communications Director
North Dakota Tourism Division, Bismarck, N.D.