Check out the latest group travel industry updates.
Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region Promotes New and Tried-and-True Attractions
SAGINAW, Mich.—Tucked along Michigan’s eastern freshwater coastline at the base of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, the Great Lakes Bay Region is home to six unique cities: Bay City, Birch Run, Chesaning, Frankenmuth, Midland, and Saginaw. The region boasts a growing number of activities and attractions for groups.
One of the region’s newest attractions is the Dow Gardens Whiting Forest Canopy Walk in Midland—the longest canopy walk in the United States. Groups enjoy epic, panoramic views up to 40 feet above the forest floor.
Groups can’t go wrong in Frankenmuth, “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” The inviting, German-inspired city unfolds all along Main Street with world-famous eateries like the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder’s Restaurant (together they seat 2,700 guests) and America’s oldest microbrewery, the Frankenmuth Brewery. The city is also home to an outdoor shopping mall, a riverboat, and aerial park, and the world’s largest Christmas store.
Another group favorite is the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum. There, visitors climb aboard the USS Edson DD-946, a destroyer ship designated a National Historic Landmark as well as a Michigan Historic Landmark. The ship is permanently moored in Bay City and open for guided tours.
For groups planning ahead, mark your calendars for the Bay City Tall Ship Celebration, slated to return in summer 2025. BaySail Bay City is the sponsor of this event, which is typically held every three years but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Event organizers look forward to welcoming the world back to the Great Lakes Bay Region for a reimagined Tall Ship Celebration in 2025.
6 Shows Set for Round Barn Theatre’s 2023 Season
NAPPANEE, Ind.—The Barns at Nappanee, Home of Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana, has released the schedule for the 2023 Round Barn Theatre season.
Shows and dates are: “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” March 16-April 22, 2023; “The Secret Garden,” May 11-June 17, 2023; “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!,” July 6-Aug. 5, 2023; “Seussical The Musical,” Aug. 24-Sept. 23, 2023; “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash,” Oct. 12-Nov. 4, 2023; and a Christmas show to be announced, Nov. 16-Dec. 31, 2023.
Ticket pricing is available for season, individual, and group tickets.
Salem Announces Launch of New Heritage Trail Project
SALEM, Mass.—The City of Salem, in conjunction with Destination Salem and partners in the community that include local historians, representatives from the National Park Service, city government, and business owners, have begun a strategic revisioning of the Salem Heritage Trail. This project will include repainting the line in gold and developing interpretation of heritage sites along the historic trail. The project is anticipated to conclude in late 2023.
The Salem Heritage Trail guides visitors through more than 400 years of Salem history. The themes of the trail will bridge connections from the land’s earliest settlement to the Salem we see today with focuses on local Indigenous peoples, Colonial Salem and the witch trials, the great age of sail, industrial heritage, abolitionism and African American stories, immigrant experiences, religious diversity, and contemporary Salem.
“Salem’s heritage trail guides visitors and residents through key locations related to our community’s unique history,” says Kimberley Driscoll, mayor of Salem. “The vision for the new heritage trail incorporates a more inclusive approach to that goal, reflecting stories, people, and places from too frequently overlooked parts of Salem’s history. The new trail will better relate the history behind the important locations along the trail.”
A new website has been created for the trail, and a mobile app that will provide interpretation of significant sites along the trail is in development. Salem Heritage Trail sites will eventually have signage with QR codes to allow visitors to easily access the interpretation.
Explore the Coast of Massachusetts on the Commonwealth’s New Lighthouse Trail
BOSTON—Since the 1700s, dozens of lighthouses have dotted the Massachusetts coastline and captured imaginations with tales of seafaring and adventure. As part of the “Your Massachusetts” regional travel campaign, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism recently launched the Massachusetts Lighthouse Trail.
The new Massachusetts Lighthouse Trail stretches from Cape Ann on the North Shore, through to Boston Harbor and the South Shore, and out to Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It maps out nearly two dozen of the most notable and accessible lighthouses, including Boston Light, Brant Point Lighthouse, and Thacher Island Twin Lights.
The trail also highlights fascinating and informative nautical attractions such as Cape Ann Harbor Tours out of Gloucester, the Boston Harbor Islands Lighthouse Tour, and the Nantucket Shipwreck & Livesaving Museum, along with local hotels and restaurants in each area.
Meet Sustainable Suzie: USTOA’s Tour Guide to Responsible Travel Around the Globe
NEW YORK—The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) recently launched a first-of-its-kind comic book that introduces a superhero for responsible travel: Sustainable Suzie. Equal parts superhero and cheerleader, Sustainable Suzie fights the good fight toward a more sustainable future for travel around the globe.
By day, she’s a USTOA tour operator guide named Susan who provides tips for travelers as well as examples of destinations and travel companies that are adopting workable, sustainable practices to ensure there is a world to explore for future generations. Meanwhile, her alter-ego Suzie battles with the villains determined to contaminate the planet. Sustainable Suzie’s adventures can be found at ustoa.com/sustainablesuzie.
“Traveling sustainably means being aware of the impact of tourism on the environment and the communities we visit, and our goal for the comic book is to break down barriers travelers might have to understanding that even small steps can make a big difference,” says Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “While a comic might seem unorthodox, Sustainable Suzie convey the core messages of responsible travel with humor, a much more digestible way to understand the issues, the stakes, and the solutions.”
Among the main responsibilities of sustainable tourism highlighted in the comic is the need to protect the natural resources and wildlife in destinations, and to conserve cultural heritage while creating authentic experiences for tourists.