Over Thanksgiving weekend, a new COVID variant called Omicron was reported. With that came a lot of speculation. Which countries are closing their borders? How will this affect international travel? Just when we thought the doors to international travel were opening, it looks like they’re about to close.
On a personal note, it looks like my and my wife’s dream vacation will be on hold for the third year in a row. Well, maybe next year.
Meanwhile, over the Thanksgiving holiday, Michigan quietly announced it was launching a $3 million ad campaign encouraging tourists to visit our state this winter. Last year, winter visitors spent $3.6 billion.
Sounds great, but overall traveler spending in Michigan was down 28.4% in 2020. That equates to a $7.5 billion drop. Not so good.
That’s why I suggest at some point this winter that everyone take a break from their couch and take advantage of the many outdoor activities available in our great state. Encourage your family and friends to do the same. Michigan has two spectacular peninsulas to explore and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy before heading to sunny Florida.
One of my favorite winter activities is snowshoeing. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. There’s nothing quite like being on a quiet trail, exercising and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.
I also like downhill skiing. Admittedly, I don’t push it’s hard like when I was younger, but it’s still a thrill to hit the slopes. Most ski resorts have instructors and equipment available. For family fun, Boyne resorts come to mind. The instructors there were great teaching my grandchildren.
And then there’s Mt. Bohemia in UP. Traveling this fall
I stopped and checked. It is definitely suitable for experienced skiers and many believe it offers the best and most challenging skiing in the whole country.
For anglers, Houghton Lake hosts a major ice and winter fishing festival in January. This is very fun. Michigan also has about 7,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and an abundance of lakes. I could go on and on.
Why am I mentioning all this in a financial column? Well, last year, tourism related jobs in Michigan fell by more than 60,000. It would be nice to help some of those people get back into the workforce and get back on their feet.
Without health, it is difficult for anyone to enjoy wealth. And being locked up day in and day out can’t be good for long-term health. Just when we sense the pandemic is nearing the finish line, it seems to be reappearing.
I fear that with all the travel restrictions and health issues, many people are cocooning too much. Here in our very own backyard there are an abundance of activities available. I’m no medical expert, but I know exercise and fresh air are good for the soul.
Michigan may not be as glamorous as supervised travel, and the sun often disappears for days at a time. But we have a lot to offer and spending a few dollars here at home can help a lot of families. Years ago, our license plates proclaimed that Michigan was a winter wonderland. I believe that is still the case.
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