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Alpena sees increased business from 10 percent tourism spike

ALPENA, Mich. – Visitors throughout the Great Lakes region, the state, and key national areas flooded the sunrise side, spiking a considerable increase in tourism in the City of Alpena.

If you wanted to grab a beer or get a quick bite to eat last summer, you didn’t stand in line or wait a long time for anyone to bring your food out.

“We definitely got caught off guard with the increase so we had to bring a lot of staffing in, bring a lot of training,” said Blake Austin, CFO of Austin Brothers brewery.

More orders at Austin Brothers means more business.

“It’s a huge brand exposure,” said Austin, “We’re a smallish brewery,”

Business is certainly brewing, but all signs pointing to the boost in customers has nothing to do the locals eating more. It’s the tourists. And they’ve come to spend money.

According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Alpena saw a 10% increase in overnight lodging at this time of year in comparison to the previous year. Plus, it’s the businesses that are receiving the fruit of increased tourism.

“Part of that is to let people know that Alpena is a worthy destination,” said Mary Beth Stutzman, CEO and president of the visitors bureau. “We’ve put an enormous amount of money in the past five years into marketing the region, and we’re marketing to places where people are learning about Alpena for the first time.”

First-timers are the reason Austin Brothers doubled its wait staff from 18 to 35 this year.

“If this tourism spike keeps up,” said Austin, “It’s going to be troublesome in the summertime.”

Stutzman said, “We want to see incremental increases, but not huge increases. Huge increases are not sustainable, and huge increases will not keep our community’s quality of life protected.”

Visitors pour $187–million dollars in our local markets on a yearly bases. By 2019, we should see this year’s cash flow spike as well.