It is now clear: the pandemic has changed American life a lot. Many of us work, learn and interact differently than two years ago. And as the weather and calendar finally turn to summer, another aspect of Michigan life is likely to be different: travel.
Pure Michigan, the state’s travel and tourism arm, is gearing up for the first real summer when Covid doesn’t seem to be over, so much so that the vacationing population is simply done. Another spike in cases is brewing, but with vaccinations taken by virtually everyone who wants one, the new attitude seems to be: fuck it, we’re hitting the road.
And that’s great, said David Lorenz, vice president of Pure Michigan.
“We learn to live with it,” he said. “Covid has changed people’s travel habits and the way we look at life in general.”
How? It made us realize that life is short and no one lives forever, maybe.
“People are enjoying travel more,” Lorenz said of the travel industry research. “It’s seen as something they have to do to enjoy life. People felt lost without the connections. They want to see new places and new people.
This translates into “huge pent-up demand for travel,” evident to anyone who has recently shopped for plane tickets or cabin rentals. But it comes at a time when shrapnel from the wreckage of the pandemic continues to rain down. Michigan has lost restaurants, and those that remain have staffing issues, due to everything from wages to housing shortages at resorts to a lack of H2B visas for foreign workers who spend summers waiting tables in places like Mackinac Island.
Additionally, crowds drawn to hotspots are bashing locals to the point that pressure is mounting again to regulate short-term rentals, i.e. Airbnb.
Where does Pure Michigan fit in? Wherever possible. Starting with this year’s tourism marketing line: “Pursue your purity. »
The idea, Lorenz said, is to sell the state as a place where you can have a variety of experiences — urban, rural, lakeside, forest — in a short amount of time, and can -be saving that trip to Traverse City for a Tuesday/Wednesday, rather than a weekend.
“Go to some lesser-known places, maybe,” he said. “Maybe Battle Creek, or the Flint Cultural Center. Detroit. Go back to the cities and mix them into your forest/beach/UP experience. So far, it’s been a very lopsided rally. Until business travel fully returns in one form or another, cities can be good business at the right time.
Going forward, Lorenz sees a more hybrid approach to life, where a family with laptops and maybe kids with mobile learning lessons can take an ambitious trip during shoulder season or another off-peak time. , essentially flattening the golf demand curve. ski season/season and open up new markets in the travel economy.
“We have to think about what’s best for communities,” Lorenz said. “But the future is much brighter than most people see.”