Traverse City News and Events

Beaver Island Ponders Opening Up For Summer Season

By Beth Milligan | May 18, 2020

On a sunny Friday afternoon on the first of May, the Emerald Isle, the massive 130-foot car ferry capable of carrying 294 passengers, 15 vehicles, cargo, and a semi-truck, completed its 32-mile journey and pulled into port at Beaver Island on its first trip of the season. There was plenty of freight, but just nine passengers walked ashore. It was a fitting start to the 2020 tourism season.

Across northern Michigan, as people look toward summer and wonder how things are going to get going again, what tourism will look like, and how people can stay safe, those questions are amplified on the island because of its isolation and lack of services.

In this week's Northern Express - sister publication of The Ticker - writer Patrick Sullivan talks to business owners, civic leaders, and island residents about what they expect in the coming months. There is something about Beaver Island - its remoteness, isolation, and uncrowdedness - that is especially alluring right now, given the world’s current state, says Paul Cole, executive director of the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce. Still, some island residents have expressed fear about visitors coming during the pandemic. “I think there’s always a percentage of people in any community who are really, really, really cautious. There are some people here like that,” Cole says. “The general conversation is, we can’t completely shut down our economy. How do we reopen in a safe way?”

Read more about what could be in store for Beaver Island this summer in this week's Northern Express, available online or at newsstand locations (including grocery stores) in 14 counties across northern Michigan.

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