Tourism tour

Michigan State Roundup

Published September 1, 2004  | September 2004 issue

At the beginning of the summer, with gasoline prices pushing $2.10 a gallon, many in the Upper Peninsula were worried this would be a major threat to their tourism-dependent summer economy.

That didn't seem a major deterrent; instead, the weather could be the culprit. Through midsummer much of the area saw overcast skies and cool temperatures, thanks in part to a mass of warm air over Alaska that forced cooler Canadian air south.

In June, average daily highs in Escanaba and Marquette were more than 2 degrees below averages from the previous year. Nighttime temperatures were frequently in the 40s. Generally in early July, measured rainfall was above average, while temperatures remained well below the annual average.

This summer's weather could especially affect the burgeoning sector of the tourist economy: ecotourism. That term refers to activities like hiking, camping and canoeing, which attract a different demographic than other outdoor activities like hunting and motor sports. And according to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, while overall traffic on the bridge in June was down about 4 percent from the same period last year, recreational traffic (RVs and motor homes) was down about 25 percent.

Joe Mahon