Sonderegger 21 - Tourism In the U.P.
uh welcome to our session this afternoon at two o'clock and um i have the i am marcus robbins by the way i'm the central upper peninsula nmu archivist and um i'm here to introduce our two speakers i'll do them one at a time our first speaker this afternoon is david horn he's the superintendent of the pictured rocks national lakeshore and he's been a superintendent at pitcher rocks for four years now but he's been in the national park service for 30 years and i've only been at nmu not quite 25 years so i can't imagine um it's ready to retire for me um and he's worked at like i said at picture rock for four years now and he's going to talk about the the lake shore during his talk if you'd like i'll probably have a motion film about 20 minutes can everyone here oh yeah that's that's pretty good uh so as my first slide talks about uh i was asked to talk about challenges at the park and one of them is our primary one is our visitation has just really exploded the last few years um so i guess what i wanted to start with is who's who's been to the actually who hasn't been to the park that's probably easier everyone's been to the park okay well i i didn't know what to expect so i just started off with some some basic stats of what we are we've been a park since 1966 35 000 acres of national lakeshore that's that's government land the whole park including the inland buffer zone is about 73 000. um 12 000 acres of designated wilderness that's the beaver beaver basin wilderness area beautiful area the whole park's gorgeous but that's really nice 100 miles of trails and 42 miles of the north country trail and you can see the see the rest you've been there so what what i've put in here i'll just blow through these fairly quickly because it's just pretty pictures of the park just in case somebody hadn't seen it um and these were done by a professional photographer i had his name on the first one but i can't recall [Music] so it's a nice place i don't think i have to sell it to you uh so uh the theme is the increased visitation so i asked our chief of interpretation has been setting out game cameras and really she wanted to get the ice uh formations coming in and then leaving and do some um you know time lapse photography that kind of thing too so this one was at a place called the curtains and uh this is what we got instead of taking a picture every day it took a picture every time it was triggered the curtains yeah and which is this is an indescript area just right off of sandpoint road uh the ice climbers go there and you just walk off the road 100 feet so this is what we got instead of [Music] so um you can't even see the ice coming in and out it's just it was triggered all the time with people and what we found is it used to be ice climbers going in there all the time but now it is probably five to one tourists just people wanting to go see the ice formations uh five tourists to every one ice climber so sand point itself has gotten really crowded uh you know all summer long this last summer the parking spilled over onto our onto the headquarters lawn uh there was just no parking down there all summer especially on warm sunny days and then even these areas in the winter ice fishermen ice climbers and tourists it's just it's just really uh filled up down there year round now and that's been in the last few years so what what we're looking at uh is doubling our visitation over the last 10 years and 141 yeah in the last decade and 40 last year alone the park's infrastructure is pretty much for the most part the same as it was in 1966 there's we have a new maintenance facility but aside from that we're a lot of our facilities are in old coast guard stations which are great i'm actually former uh coast guard and so i i love being in those old buildings for beautiful buildings um the budget in the last decade hasn't changed much at all either except for what we what we pay ourselves has gone up gradually over that time so it's a it's a kind of a net loss as far as um operations go and then as a result of that the staffing is decreased i'm not saying all this to complain that's just kind of the reality of it right now so that's what our visitation looks like and you can see this was a coveted year this one and we were expecting it to drop everyone's masked up everyone's you know told to stay at home and all of that and it just exploded uh during covid and i think uh people couldn't fly they still wanted to get out uh get out get outdoors so we had a lot of visitation from all over the midwest so i think that's what happens there we don't get the our end um final count until december it's by calendar year so we're thinking it might go i get bigger than this too this is 1.2 million that bar on the right um 1.2 1.2 million visitors the year before was a record at 858 000 and we thought that was crazy busy so last year was just ridiculous okay i'm sorry actually i how do you count that because i've been there several times that i've never encountered you've been counted yeah we do mostly vehicle counts we know exactly how many guided kayak trips we know exactly how many um boat tours how many people got on boat tours and every every access point into the park has a vehicle counter and then there's a formula through studies that it's however you know two points whatever people per per car so it's it's relatively accurate um and that that has that's been unchanged that methodology has been unchanged for several years so even if it's uh not an exact number the growth is still pretty similar but pardon me we don't we're starting to do that um but you know that's it's actually it's fairly involved to keep all these things up and running but that's a great that's a great idea we're trying to head that direction um this is when everyone comes you know a lot of ice climbers uh people in the winter but july and august it just really explodes that's when most of the people come in there uh we're sold out as soon as you can start making campground reservations it's sold out for the year uh so if you want to make reservations get on there right when it opens up on wreck.gov and then this is economic contributions this is from i don't know if you can see it but there's a website down there that methodology was developed by university of michigan i think and obviously with more visitation brings in more money to the local communities and that's what the breakout looks like for that for that site so what was the last year 54 million local communities so i'm talking about um visitation so i'm gonna end i thought i'd just discuss one trailhead one little parking lot chapel trailhead uh because it's representative of what's going on throughout the park and this is a this is an important place for us because it's pictured rocks the big cliffs this is how you access those areas uh by foot uh so a little more details about it like i said it's a primary destination uh the chapel loop you get into the grand portal all the all the big uh you know really really scenic vistas or down these trails it's ultimately it's the equivalent of a small logging road and at the end of it there's a little dirt uh parking lot about 50 50 spaces in it um and this is our account this year i didn't check it right before this so this is about a a month or two old i mean the visitation's really uh gone down in the last month obviously but can you imagine for those of you who have been down there 74 000 cars this summer in a 50 lot space there uh we did change this up uh where we had we had the vehicle counter in the parking lot or right before the parking lot and what happens is people park you know a mile or two away from it so we moved the counter back because we're missing all those cars that that didn't make it all the way in there so what happens you go there on a saturday on in july you should get there by no later than eight o'clock because it instantly fills up and then you're it's just if the later you get the more penalized you get the longer your hike is going to be parking back on the road there which may not be a bad a a big deal but this is what it looks like and this has got some detail in it our area the government-owned area of the park we've put up no parking signs but as soon as our land stops we have no jurisdiction there we have no enforcement we have no authority and those signs stop and this happens on both sides of the road you can just see how wide that that is so there's a lot of missing you know rear view mirrors side view mirrors um there's a lot of conflict with pedestrians walking where cars and just trying to get around each other two cars coming this way and trying to get around each other it's it's really difficult and it's just a mess our employees you know one of the toughest jobs in the park with this visitation is custodial and that has to get done or you know bad things happen so i'd ask that that has to happen every single day and our custodians won't if they don't get down there and out of there by eight in the morning they're done good oh it's it's happening to a lot of our national parks that's true phenomenon like yellowstone is one way you know one way now that's actually a great point this is not unique to pictured rocks national parks in general are it just exploded with visitation it it's a good thing people are getting out to see their parts um but we're really i feel like we're really facing behind this problem you know we are definitely not out in front of it but that's what it looks like has anyone seen that firsthand yeah oh yeah but yeah i mean that's actually a good point there's there's some really aggravated people too i saw a semi truck go down there and had to back out that's a great point and uh and that's a huge concern that's why we're really trying to solve this problem and we're um i'll go into more detail but yeah that's it it has happened 9-1-1 calls have gone unanswered are you in are you in emergency services yep have you tried to go down there so i do not work in belgium okay yeah it's a it's a real threat we get calls down there and what we end up doing it's actually faster to take a boat there and hike in yeah oh it does it does happen when we get the call we go through what's called a search urgency chart we try to weed those out you know are you just tired are you really really hurt because if you're you know relatively young healthy good weather you're walking out you know but that's a great excellent point so i know speaking of the choir because everyone knows what the park looks like but that's the area that's the chapel basin right there and you can see little town of mel strand they have a my wife bought a coffee cup that said uh conveniently located in the middle of nowhere but this is a five mile road to get into there and that's what it looks like from a satellite and that's the little problem child right there that little dot in there and the close-up looks like that it's just a it's just a standard issue parking lot but it's such a focus area for us right now it just it fills up immediately and stays full until september um the quick suggestion people have is just build a build a bigger parking lot yeah and we did uh this believe it or not this one's bigger than the one we had um but this is an actual map uh our resource chief gave this to me um the chapel basin was proposed wilderness it didn't make the cut beaver basin was the one one that got proposed but it's surrounded by wetland and this is a wetland map so we kind of snuck it in there uh and it's it's there for a reason it's still pretty wet in there but to bring in that much fill and dump it into wetland um we're just we don't want to do that this that's a national park for right reason people go there to hike to see it it's beautiful um i just we're gonna we're trying to be a little more creative and come up with something that isn't a walmart sized parking lot in the area that was a proposed wilderness so here's a close-up of our map and this is the public land and this is our map is actually a little bit confusing this green whatever this darker green is the inland buffer zone and we don't own that land that's privately owned land state-owned land other government land but it's not national park service land it's just that red boundary is what that is so that's you can tell that this is what we maintain that's the last few hundred yards of that road is there a reason why it's called the buffer zone allowed it's it's to protect those drainages it was the initial that this was what the initial proposal was for the legislation for the park was but that would have ended logging in that entire area so it was intended to maintain logging the ability to log legally in these areas but still uh protect them and protect those drainages going into the park that's why it's called the buffer zone am i eating into your time okay okay uh so this is what it looks like when we started breaking this problem down this is algebra county owns that first 3.4 miles of road and they do a fantastic job actually it is filled and graded and wider and even if people parked on the side you go cars can go past each other through that area uh this is the state of michigan this is dnr land um or a half mile and then a little over a mile mile and a quarter or so is private land hancock forest management and then this little chunk at the end is national park service land so that little chunk is very well maintained we signed it it's actually too much signage it looks like a sign for us it's no parking no parking no parking because it just fills up um but i just described what it kind of looks like and through this process we have you know we discovered or rediscovered that we have an agreement so we can work on and invest uh federal money into the dnr land so we've done that we've put in out a bunch of gravel bless you a bunch of gravel uh grading it and uh so it's really it's really that private section that's in the middle now um that we really can't do anything with we can't use government time and money on and that's what the ownership map looks like and this light section here is the private land so one idea that we talked about um we can't really it didn't get any legs yet so i thought i'd still just talk about it um the private section we thought if we could put expanded parking outside of the park and then even shuttle or even make this a red the new start to the trail just during the summer months so at least you know you're not sharing a road with cars with moving vehicles and what that would look like is you know you could do the big 200 space lot there uh it add adds another mile or you know mile and a half to the to your hike to get into the cliffs but that would be that could be one idea and we just had somebody draw that up what it could look like um dnr's been great to work with there's a lot of there's a lot of legal reasons why we can't we can't do that we can't even we can't purchase land from dnr they can they can give it to us um but this isn't working right now but we've got people still working on some other concepts for this if you have any ideas uh what we're trying to do is uh move the main parking at a chapel it's just not a fun experience for visitors and does anyone go there and hike on saturday in july no the locals don't do that right uh because you know you fall for that once uh the resource damage the dust the parking up on side of the roads um it's it gets pretty bad down there um the pedestrian and vehicle conflicts that's that's a big deal um we like to make it scalable you know this time of year we just open it up open it back up and the parking lot's fine you can go there on a saturday at noon and you'll be just fine this time of year um and it'll it by doing that it would limit additional impacts to chapel and allow for emergency vehicle ingress and egress if we could figure out how to do that so that is the park is a very very linear park and you access it by a few roads and roads and trails that go into there so this is this is probably our hot spot but uh beaver basin um sandpoint pretty much ever all of our access points are really impacted lots of people coming in there not enough parking and the trails themselves and people do make it in there a trail you used to have a nice four foot wide dirt trail they've really become kind of pedestrian highways out there some of them and social trails has been a big impact a social trail a couple people go to explore and it looks like a little bit like a trail now and people will keep following that and now it's just honeycombed with all kinds of social trails in there too our trail crew spends a lot of time trying to rehab those areas so i'll i'll pause there and that's really as far as i'm going to go with chapel but that's that's where we're at and i'll go yeah any questions go ahead what's up glacier that's a great question the question was about shuttles and what's the thresholds when shuttles are appropriate or not appropriate it's a great question we have talked about it uh we need a place to put cars first where do we shuttle them from and we really don't own that you saw the park service land it's a skinny strip along the coast so it would have to be a private company a commercial use authorization we could partner with somebody who bought 10 acres we've had the state of michigan approach us about electric vehicles setting up shuttles with which all great ideas um but it's really part of it is is kind of beyond us because we don't have the land so it would be a longer shuttle ride but what about a parking lot next to the mill strand store which would bring them customers and then you'd have a spot outside the dnr land i think that's a great idea should we should put a business package together any any other questions that's not our land but we are entertaining that we we've reached reaching the point where it is that little 50 car lot is not adequate for the kind of visitation that gets down there so it is a little bit of a frustrating problem and we are looking at that's that's kind of next that's kind of the nuclear option because it takes a while the word zion got to you don't go into zion anymore you go to the bus stop and it takes you in and out until we of course the problem is well thanks you know on that subject real quick and we'll get to you but i will note that uh altran our public transportation folks don't go down to those places they they can't get out of there once they get down there um have you guys ever thought about implementing like a park fee or like is that in the plans anytime soon uh it's like entrance fee proposed that uh we put that out for public comment uh the public comment period ended we're telling that we put the proposal up through our regional office and through washington so it's still it's still being considered very much considered that's something that we don't decide it's a national program it's recreation fees for the national park actually for all public land and i it would be phased in if it was approved and it would ultimately be 20 vehicle with a lot of caveats in there if you're 62 or older it's free if you're a veteran it's free if a fourth grader or a fifth grader i can't rattle off all of the you know special considerations but 20 bucks a car generally speaking i think i i'm i know what i'm talking about but don't some of the uh u.s national parks
require you know reservations ahead of their planned visitation like yellowstone and and some of the in yosemite i you can't just show up anymore at least not in july and august so you could do that for picture drugs too yeah we could i mean i i used to work in uh yosemite and i've learned recently that there's a reservation system to hike up half dome a hike a reservation to take a hike uh so you you saw the the visitation chart like i said we're kind of chasing this problem it's just really exploded um so these are these are great ideas but they they take a lot of time it took years for somebody to get to that point i'd like to move on to our next speaker um yes thank you david can i can i sneak one more quick thing in so on a positive note this is something that this is just just a concept but this is sandpoint down here um we've been working with city of municip and just conceptually but uh potentially linking a multi-use trail to get to get more cars off the road and just for the it'd be a fun experience to be able to walk or ride a bike uh from downtown municipal all the way to into the park so just i would be excellent all right well thank you thank you well i'm hoping our next speaker can maybe help explain how it was about 1.2 million people had pictured rocks which is really hard to fathom tom nemechek has roots in the western u.p having been partially raised in the ironwood area he's a u.s air force veteran having
spent 4.5 years at sawyer he's worked in broadcast management uh previous to his current position he was the executive director of the western u.p convention and visitors bureau for seven years and now he is the executive director of up travel and recreation where he's been for the last 26 years and he has no interest in retiring which i find rather remarkable as well after such a large so thanks huh i'll probably end up sitting down because it's pretty informal organization here um i'll give you just one minute on who we are upper peninsula travel and recreation goes back to 1911.
of it's all 15 counties together under an umbrella to promote michigan's upper peninsula and if you think about it how they all got together in 1911 to do that is pretty amazing they sent six to eight people from each county together to say they needed to work together something we should think about today working together and they all they all came together and formed an organization and i don't know about you he talks about the roads being bad but 1911 the roads would have been a lot worse so um i can't help but think what dave's talking about is the fact that it feels like that song from whenever that was the 70s if we take paradise and put up a parking lot uh it seems like we're approaching that particular issue um so we do a lot of i'm a tourism promoter is what i am i you can want to throw sticks and stones at me with having all the some of these people were responsible for coming up that's what our marketing program does we don't have any development plans or we don't work on events or anything like that we're strictly promotion but naturally after doing it 26 years i've got a pretty good understanding of what's going on around the u.p and the last couple years have been extremely challenging for a lot of the residents in the u.p it's challenging for the businesses as well who are involved in tourism uh from a staffing standpoint we know that we have our hospitality restaurants and stuff like that that you know they're having a hard time staffing so in the case you've got thousand people trying to eat tonight and the restaurants can only serve a couple hundred so there's a lot of things going on this pressure that dave talked about has been dramatic and dramatically quick the park was growing the park first of all the park is the number one attraction in the u.p
um many years ago and not that many actually actually uh macan island was but some years ago and probably 10 years ago now pictured rocks became the number one attraction in the u.p from a tourism standpoint and from a marketing standpoint and from how you spread the dollars around which is part of the equation here for any tourism is the fact that it's located located in the middle of the u.p and to get to it you've got to go through either the western u.p
or the eastern u.p so consequently it's a great thing to have your number one attraction in the middle of the upper peninsula um i don't think it was planned that way i think it just turned out that way so we're um we're experiencing exponential growth almost uh you start talking about 800 and some thousand visitors a couple years ago and you go up to 1.2 million um i can tell you that some gentleman over here said something about i don't believe that i understand saying that but i can tell you from the numbers that i see which are mostly from lodging establishments as well as campgrounds those are real numbers those are real numbers because we see real people and we see real dollars associated with those visits um so there's a lot of challenge around the whole up yeah pictured rocks is not alone uh that you know misery loves company maybe but it's not alone in having these challenges it just happens to be the biggest challenge elgir county is a very small county and elder county has the most visitors in the history of mankind for the upper peninsula so that just by nature creates stress and strain with the infrastructure and the residence and if you're not particularly running a business that the register's ringing all the time you may not be in love with 1.2 million visitors in elgir county and i certainly understand that doesn't mean i don't stop promoting the upper peninsula but we certainly understand that's my mission is to promote that the problem's there but there's another problem though that since this whole thing is about challenges there's another big challenge i think we have in our communities and certainly elder county is right there again thanks to the 1.2 million people but every county in the u.p has a challenge when it comes to the proliferation of short-term rentals people who take their homes and decide to rent them out to visitors i mean you could probably say well he's just representing the lodging industry and he doesn't want any of those that's not true short-term rentals are our biggest challenge right now in the tourism industry at least as it comes to being residents and living in a community recently some legislation there's the hottest thing going in lansing right now for anything to do with tourism is short-term rentals if i took a guess right now and how many proposed bills are in lansing concerning short-term rentals it's probably 20-plus those are the ones we know about that are being proposed about short-term rentals because there's always legislation pending somewhere in somebody's brain or office that they want to do something and we saw this coming about eight or ten years ago we saw this short-term rental thing start to expand it's been always there and i think the shortage of you know airbnb is the one everybody knows now but they remember there's others there's vacation rental by owner there's home away there's people that just plain do it and it just again like pictured rocks it went right through the roof well the biggest problem i think we have as residents is that the short-term rental industry has wanted it to be considered not a business and they basically have that now although the bill hasn't been passed yet they basically want to say if you own a home and you want to rent it out the transient guests not people that live there for months at a time like a apartment rental or a house rental to transient guests which means they could be flipping those nights often and they will because transients don't stay 30 days that would not be considered a business which means your zoning all of a sudden in my opinion becomes worthless inside of a community imagine yourself and it is happening i don't i'm not putting something out there that's hypothetical imagine yourself living in a neighborhood in marquette any community you'd like to pick and you're in this you're in a community you've got 12 15 houses on your block and all of a sudden five of them decide that they're going to start renting them out to transient guests so every night every three nights every five nights you're going to have a whole bunch of new neighbors could be five people in a house it's never two i can promise you that it's five people in a house it could be 20 people in a house there's no regulation and how many are going to be in the house and they're flipping those places and those people in and out so you're in a community now that you've got rotating transient guests in and out of your block on a regular basis they're not you're they're not your community residents these are visitors people on vacation i hate to say many of them have a little bit of a different attitude when it comes to how they treat a community that they're visiting versus how they treat a community where they live and i think the people the residents of the upper peninsula need to get extremely active in slowing this down and and not let lansing and i'm not a politician promoter not let lansing tell communities you can't control that you can't regulate what is happening in your community and again the pressure is by the people who want to do this which are people that invest in these things this is not your neighbor very seldom visit your neighbor that says i'm going to take a few you know they always talk about what they can rent a room out well that's really rare these houses are bought by many people one person might come to town and buy ten houses in in marquette or five or whatever it is and their absentee they rent the houses out there as a business although they want to be told they're not a business my opinion if you hand money for somebody to somebody for a service or a product sounds like a business and we're being told that they don't want to be businesses and and one of the reasons they don't want to be businesses is that if it's a business if it's not a business it becomes extremely hard to say you can't have these in your community because all of a sudden well it's a house it's a home it's neither a it's not a home anymore it's a house and it's a business house it's a house that's being rented out i think our communities have to realize we don't want to wake up tomorrow any more of this problem wake up with more of this problem it's and and the explosion in things like pictured rocks and the explosion of visitors and it's an explosion i mean i can't argue with 800 some thousand 1.2 million in two years
i used to hope that the upper peninsula tourism industry would go by 3 a year so in my in my 26 years as director of up travel i mean as a marketing person if we grew by three or four percent well first of all i took all the credit because it was all the great you know it was all the great marketing that we did um now when it wasn't growing well then it's the damn economy you know it wasn't me i was doing a great job so you know it it is it's everywhere all of a sudden we go from you know three percent four percent 50 800 000 to 1.2 sounds like 50 to me so you have to address these things at the local level we want to address them at the local level you know i don't want we don't want somebody to say from you know when i went to school back with uh who knows who back then probably eisenhower i don't know so when i went to school yeah one of the big things you learn in civics if they still teach civics but if one thing you learn civics is the farther away a decision is made from the area the decision impacts the less likely you're going to be happy with that decision i'm not picking on washington i don't mean i know you're washington i'm not picking on washington i'm not picking on lansing we really do want federal and state governments to run the programs that make our living safe comfortable happy we want good drinking water we want good roads we want all these things health a little thing called community health something we've been dealing with heavily for the last year and a half we want those standards set by federal and state government we really do because if that gets only down to the local government then we might have more of a problem we want somebody from a distance in those cases to say you've got to do it because that eliminates the politics or at least helps eliminate the politics but when it comes to the things we should control at the local level we sure don't want that you're gonna love you know i don't want lansing telling you that you live in the middle of a block somewhere in marquette and they're basically would be telling you oh you're gonna love having five transient houses in your area you're gonna get to know people from other parts of the country you're gonna get to know people that you know it's diversity we're gonna bring you know people that drink different kind of beer than we do you know there's all these things that they're going to bring to the table and it's the things they bring to the table that's making all the conflict and we need to be able to say no local communities decide on what our communities are going to look like and we're going to put our businesses in business areas doesn't mean we aren't going to go with short-term rentals but it better be the decision of the people that live here you know if people decide in marquette algebra county ironwood pick a pick a town if you want to decide and you vote on it or your leaders that you voted on decide and we all agree we're never all going to read anything but if we all agree that there's going to be 25 in a given community of short-term rentals my only hope is if you say 25 it's not 25 in a four block area density density is what tourism and what residents are all about it's all about density it's all about density where we live what we do it's all about density so all of a sudden you take a densely populated area and you start rotating people in and out probably sounds like a broken record but it's it really is a really it's the number one concern in my opinion of what we have for with tourism in the united states we're not unique to this we could be hyper critical to this though as a problem over many other areas as as dave mentioned pictured rocks is long and narrow but we jam up all the other visitors in a small area as well let's get them out of that let's get them out at least where we live on the streets that we live sounds like i'm anti-tourist i'm not anti-tourist so um but it's real i'm not gonna pretend that it's not there and it's good for everybody um if i if i own an attraction if i'm selling tickets do i care where they stay probably not more people in the community buy more tickets but but the residents need to think about this so that part of it is unfortunately we talk about challenges i don't have we had challenges the last couple years um dave mentioned the people getting in and out of roads and had you know we had people visiting the u.p that have never done an outdoor experience because they couldn't go do an indoor exp they couldn't go to a city experience they're scared they were scared to death to go to chicago detroit new york disney world anything that was densely populated so back in april of 2020 when we were like what is this gonna mean to tourism when this whole thing started probably three weeks i mean i cancelled million dollar advertising like that probably three weeks later i'm sitting there watching the news or whatever and i remember we were showing the covid maps with all the dots all over i called up my board of directors and they said uh that's a billboard for the u.p because there were dots all over the lower peninsula and our dots were spaced all over i said i i probably don't need to do any marketing i said because that's the greatest thing going on right now is that and that happened like that in may we were still on in may of 2020 a year ago year and a half ago we were still under we were still under a travel ban we were under a travel ban and it was amazing how many people were coming to the upper peninsula and some of it was out of fear i mean some of it was you know i want to get out of the city and they i mean and so it was amazing uh disturbing for some disturbing for a lot of people but it happened that fast it hasn't slowed down the good news is it is slowing down um starting last december year ago when vaccine came out we saw the interest level completely change in the country now it it flipped very fast doesn't mean we aren't going to get a lot of people but all of a sudden their idea of vacationing for a lot of people was open back up again to chicago detroit disney world more urban areas not for everybody i'm not pretending it's a flip but it's a very noticeable change in consumer sentiment now what that means for the u.p is and i
think we might all like a little bit of a breather it's bound to be starting to flatten out and i'm ahead of the curve from what you see because i'm ahead of the curve because we do the marketing so when we start to see the marketing response start to go slower all of a sudden we don't get 800 million website is we only get 700 million um we know that it's sliding that way and it all makes sense it all makes sense that there's other places to go now that they're comfortable to go now our traditional outdoor visitors and such i mean we return custom our return ratio is extremely high we offer a great product to the people that like our type of product hence we get people back and we got a lot of people that had never been here before now those people are going to bring us more people because many of them you know it's all about word of mouth so that's that's all kind of good but we that is good but we're going to flatten out again and not have the visitors who want to go to a city and we did we had people that never had been to an outdoor experience so what they did is they didn't understand private land i mean the private land encroaching across the whole u.p we had people camping on people's i don't mean like 40 you know they think if there's trees it's public some of the people well or they think you know i'm a taxpayer this is my land you know i mean i know dave gets that you know you it's like they pulled into the park it's like i've been a taxpayer all my life why do i have to pay to get in here and they currently don't but i mean you know we hear that all the time at state parks i've been paying taxes all my life well that's got nothing to do with the user fee but still there's and so these new people who had never been to an outdoor environment didn't understand ethics morality didn't understand the way you're supposed to do business as a as a cuss as a consumer they did encroach all over some parts of the u.p dave mentioned all the signs he's got on the road coming in to prevent people from hopefully parking when they aren't supposed to park well we've got parts of the u.p that you think we're in the middle of chicago because these big land owners or even any landowners 20 acres 10 acres sometimes only an acre certainly people with 400 or 500 acres they posted signs up and down the road and telling people private land big signs great look for the upper peninsula tourism association i mean i love driving up to copper harbor in the you know in the uh tunnel of trees now it's the tunnel of trees and signs because people that own that's private land along there they think it's public land but it's private land so all of a sudden i love taking a travel journalist which i do a lot of taking journalists around write about the u.p write stories about the u.p i love displaying that look driving into copper harbor or some other area so land use is a real problem and land use is a real problem all the way down to short-term rentals for the neighbor next to you or the block next to you so i i really encourage people to talk to their local officials talk to their state officials and say we really don't want to be told that these aren't businesses these are businesses i'm paying money i'm renting a house that's a business and if we don't do this soon we're going to wake up having we don't know how many are in the u.p i can tell you that there are some counties that are running between five and 600 of them those are the ones we can tell by the platforms which means i go into vrbo's website i want to book a room a house i go to airbnb i go to home and away we have areas that have four or five hundred those are the ones we know about those are the ones that you know once once a short-term rental starts to develop a clientele base let's say i own a hotel or i own a house in marquette and i'm a short-term rental and i go to airbnb and i say i want to be an airbnb i want you to book my rooms for my house for me and it's a great platform because they have national recognition international recognition so i buy the house i tell them this is my price all of a sudden it's filling up they get a percentage keeps filling up over and over and over and all of a sudden we're just you're just booked with these people and you're overwhelmed but what happens then is they they take that rental now they don't know the customer if i if i rent a room through airbnb or a house it's a long way before i get to know who the owner is because the airbnb wants their cut so they keep them separated they keep it for a long time the owner doesn't know who's coming so all of it then you get to a certain point they allow you to communicate with the owner so when they get the person to stay with them and they get to know them or they find out who they are do you think they go they book through the platform anymore so i'm running it a thousand dollars a night and i'm giving airbnb two hundred dollars of the thousand that's the contract let's say that's all set up i'm going to get my 800 they're going to get 200 the consumer pays a thousand well i only i own the hotel i mean i own the house and i talk to you and you say i'd loved it why don't you come back next year but you know you don't have to go through airbnb just book me direct and i'll cut a deal with you for 800 bucks or whatever or 900 split the difference they made an extra hundred and the customer saved a hundred yep i'm very aware yeah there's a couple things for everyone in the room oh but that was at three o'clock in the morning um are you ready for questions [Applause] is that that vote is next week five one seven three seven three seven eight four and i don't want to get the representatives loose on this but they already passed theirs so keep that in mind too the representatives house of representatives already passed it does anyone have any other questions for that was and this is very interesting you're talking about ed mcbroom who just talked down the hall there and was very concerned about the u.p or so
he told us i presume he is so he's the fellow that we should all be talking to and calling because this would be a get this off this would be a disaster it's one step from being a disaster uh i would uh being familiar with the history of the u.p i'll just make some comments here and i don't know if you want to hear them we're here but uh uh tying into uh what what has been said uh in the uh in the 19th century prior to say about 1850 before we crossed the mississippi there were three uh places in the united states that were tourist attractions that everybody wanted to see or hope to see one was obviously niagara falls two was i said gonna say here uh harper's ferry above above washington which president jefferson says was said was the most beautiful place in the country and the third place pictured rocks but the only problem with that was if you could get there this is before steamboats and they were coming in with uh with uh canoes so and and the other thing about tourism is the other big two tourist places uh from the beginning from the time when the fur trade ended and then tourism immediately took over uh was uh sault ste marie because of the fishing uh in the river and then mackinaw island because of the beaver pelts and the uh it was all because of beaver mackin island was all about getting the beaver out of the state yeah yeah but this was after that that time the next industry was was tourism oh yeah yeah and for the island has been you know has been that way well they surpassed that they blew by them yeah double up back in island so one other so the city of marquette is so worried about this we passed a resolution saying that we did not want this to happen and uh i got to be on a press conference with the city of grand rapids marquette has a limit of 250 short-term rentals we hit that cap in 2019 there's now a waiting list but there are we are do limited to 250. grand rapids limits their short-term rentals to 100. just and that's as of now and that's as of until someday they tell you that that ordinance is illegal and we spent we had several public hearings and meetings i can also tell you in terms of the question of people living in the home in order to be able to own the home because it's so expensive to live here now six percent of our short-term rentals are 94 of them are are are absentee or they um they do not live in the home so it is not the case in marquette that people are doing this in order to live in the home and the other thing is that we all have to be aware of this is what creates housing shortages let's say i have a house in the middle of marquette that's worth 150 000 but it's worth 300 000 if it's business that i'm renting out we're gonna you're getting you're getting driven out of your own communities that you can't afford to live in there's affordable housing is a huge problem everywhere marquette has a serious problem with it oh for both houses no we hire about we hire about up to 40 seasonal employees every year and there's literally no housing i mean there's no housing for them so we don't hire that many and that's that's people look at the housing situation they can't come yeah that to feed the workforce to keep the money coming in to all that whole thing but even i mean even our residents our neighbor is not going to be able to afford a house and the taxes as we all know i'm not against taxes but as property taxes go up because the place now is making is worth 300 000 used to be 150 eventually you can't afford the taxes and that does happen california 75 years ago put in a cap so that you never pay more than a certain percentage as long as you live there but as soon as you sell the house it goes to the new value we don't want to have to get to that so i would i would or if we have to we better do it it does it does actually it can't go too fast okay good i i guess i didn't realize that that was in place but we still don't want to 150 000 houses selling as 300 000 businesses but we don't want that you mean the market yeah that's happening all over that's what short-term rentals are doing they're driving up the price but that's what i mean though if i if a house if i come to you and i want to buy your house for 150 000 because that's what it's worth somebody comes around behind me and says yeah like you're saying and they say oh i'll take it for 300 000.
all of a sudden i don't have a house because i can't afford a 300 000 house so affordable housing is just there's nothing good about saying something's not a business when it is a business okay that's my soapbox say i i just want to make an announcement uh to everybody there's you can go online and there's a new it's been going on for about a year there's a new online journal that deals with uh with problems and it's called rural insights rural insights and recently michael broadway in the geography department and his son put together a very interesting interesting article about the economy in municip and what you know what has happened and uh with this uh uh impact of people and so on and so but it's a very if you're if you're interested in current upper peninsula problems and so on take a look at that rural insights it's online periodically i have an article getting into the history of the area is there anyone else questioning otherwise we should wrap it up i was just wondering more so do you know of any i guess solutions or resolutions that you guys are coming to as far as you know the housing shortage um i know you talked about this i have a good buddy um he lives out in municip he's working for you know company out there but he's still living with his parents because there's no houses that he can you know move into and i last i talked to him he's considered moving uh down appleton um because there's no homes up here and i was just wondering if there's you know any so all yeah sorry so all those things have piled up on top of each other um basically we have to turn the housing engine back on we have to turn and on top of that we have climate change and the fact that another study came out this week saying that michigan is the place you want to live from climate change because of the great lakes so if we don't plan for it as they're saying if we don't get ahead of it they're going to be here anyway they've already they're buying the houses anyway it's already happened right yeah if you don't act you'll be acted upon and so we are going to be building housing come to this come to city commission meetings um and planning commission meetings and there's a lot and same thing i'm using i'm good friends with the mayor immunosync they're working on it too they're trying hey what i'm afraid i'm gonna have to wrap it up because we've got another session in a few minutes and they've got to get set up thank you very much david and tom [Music] you