LANSING, Mich. — Tourism officials are working hard to help Lansing's travel industry rebound from last year’s slump.
“We feel that it’s going to be a nice change for this summer compared to last,” said Julie Pingston, the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO. “There will be some events taking place in the region and we’ll be able to get people back out traveling.”
Travel, tourism, and hospitality were hit hard by the pandemic.
Lansing’s hotel occupancy in April 2020 was at about 20%, a steep decline from its typical rate of 65% for that time of year.
In April 2021, the hotel occupancy rate was 45%.
Pingston says the gradual shift back to in-person gatherings like the Michigan State University commencement ceremony last week is contributing to Lansing’s travel comeback.
“We had a number of the graduates’ families stay over and eat out in our restaurants and explore a little bit in the community, so that’s been a nice lift for this industry,” said Pingston.
Graduation isn’t the only MSU event that could draw people to Lansing this year. For instance, MSU football is returning after a shortened season in 2020.
"One of the unique things about being a college town is that even after people graduate from Michigan State and go on, they enjoy the opportunity to return," said MSU associate athletic director Matt Larson. "People love homecoming and the opportunity to come back whether they’re going to a football game or not.”
There are still a lot of unknowns around the fall season like how many fans will actually be allowed in Spartan Stadium, which could make a big difference.
Pingston says visitors still have concerns about traveling to mid-Michigan.
“The barriers that people see is that safety factor,” said Pingston. “They want to know that the businesses are ready to welcome them, but also welcome them safely.”
The Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau has joined over 100 businesses in the hospitality community to sign the Greater Lansing Safety Pledge, a promise to maintain COVID-19 protocols for visitors during their trip to the city.
“People just want to get out and get back to doing some things that they love to do, so I think the demand is there especially as we go into these summer months,” she said.
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