WMU News

Forecast for winter tourism is partly cloudy

Dec. 6, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Trying to predict the outcome of the winter tourism season is like trying to predict the weather in Michigan.

But one thing is for sure: Winter vacationers can expect to see discounts on packages at ski slopes and other winter recreation destinations, says Dr. Eldor Quandt. An associate professor of geography, Quandt is an advisor to the tourism and travel program at Western Michigan University.

After a string of mild winters, winter sports enthusiasts have fallen into a pattern of holding off on booking vacations in advance, opting for more spur-of-the-moment getaways, Quandt says. "What people did is to develop a wait-and-see kind of attitude and generally became weekend skiers who used the slopes on the weekends and came to the resort or hotel on a moment's notice, at which time there were bargains there waiting for them."

Quandt expects that trend to continue this year, with resorts offering discounts to attract last-minute weekend vacationers and also encouraging them to visit during the week. On a more positive note for the industry, Michigan winter resorts actually could benefit by the lingering effects of Sept. 11, as people opt to vacation closer to home rather than fly to another part of the country.

But then, there's the weather. Quandt says an El Nino weather pattern now taking shape in the Pacific Ocean could bring another mild winter with low precipitation to the state. If that happens, winter resorts will be facing another lean year.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400