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Hopes for a rebound as Michigan summer tourism season gets underway

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Courtesy of Michigan's Adventure
A rollercoaster at Michigan's Adventure in Muskegon.

The unofficial start of the summer tourism season is here, and there’s hope that the industry will continue to rebound from the pandemic, despite fears of high inflation in the economy.

“You know, I hear all of that, and I understand that’s a concern for a lot of people,” said Laure Bollenbach, a spokesperson for Michigan’s Adventure, an amusement park in Muskegon. “But I also think to counter that, a lot of people are just really anxious to get out, to enjoy their summer, to enjoy time with their families that they haven’t been able to be with, so in my opinion it’s going to be a great year.”

More than 100 million visitors a year contribute to Michigan’s tourism industry, according to figures from the state of Michigan. Prior to the pandemic, they spent well over $20 billion a year, but that number dipped 28.4% in 2020.

Bollenbach said she’s worked with Michigan’s Adventure for 27 seasons, and she’s especially excited for the return of crowds this summer.

“We wait all winter for this anyway,” she said, “but the last two summers weren’t quite as fun, so hopefully this year will be a lot more fun.”

Behind her, riders zipped past on the Corkscrew, a looping coaster that sports a fresh coat of paint for this season. They’re among the first riders of the year, here for the park’s opening weekend. Bollenbach, and many others who work in Michigan’s tourism industry, hope they keep coming.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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