WMU News

Economy and fear of flying create woes for tourism

Dec. 4, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- A sputtering U.S. economy and lingering fears of terrorism are expected to put a damper on the winter tourism industry in Michigan and across the nation.

Tourism in Michigan grew about 1 percent this year, compared to the 3 percent to 5 percent growth rate that has become the standard in recent years. But things could be worse, says Dr. Eldor Quandt, a WMU associate professor of geography and tourism expert.

"That is a dip," Quandt says, "but not like some of the other areas are going through. We don't have the boom, but we don't have the bust here either. It's a pretty steady business we've got."

Areas that depend heavily on airline travel for tourism, such as California and Florida, have been especially hard hit by terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

"It's a combination of recession and that people just want to stay at home right now," Quandt says. Winter tourism in Michigan this year will be centered more around visits by friends and family than expensive overnight skiing trips that many resorts depend on, Quandt says. That will mean that many ski resorts in northern Michigan will be doing well just to break even this year.

The picture is a little better in southern Michigan, which is less dependent on skiing, Quandt says.

"Within 100 to 150 miles from a major metropolitan area, there's still going to be some pretty good activity in terms of recreation and tourism," Quandt says. Southern Michigan is covered in that 150-mile radius by Chicago and Detroit, two of the world's largest cities, so southern Michigan should not see any significant drop in tourism or recreation.

Quandt says it could be well into summer next year before tourism begins to rebound.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 269 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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