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South Haven sees rebound in tourists following slower 2020

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Downtown South Haven was busy Friday with visitors kicking off the long Labor Day weekend. (WWMT/Will Haenni)

Downtown South Haven was busy Friday with visitors kicking off the long Labor Day weekend.

South Haven seen a surge in lodging following a slight slow down in 2020, according to South Haven-Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jennifer Sistrunk.

"People like to go to the beach, then come on up here, grab some dinner, do a little shopping," Roxanne Leder, owner of Decadent Dogs in downtown South Haven, said.

A woman visiting from Indianapolis said she was looking forward to spending time at the 45th annual All-Crafts Fair at Stanley Johnston Park on Saturday and Sunday

"Love the shopping, we were out on a boat yesterday. Had a great dinner last night," the woman said.

Sistrunk said 2021 has been good and the numbers are up even over 2019.

The visitors bureau has members that lodge 10 people or more. During 2020 at the height of the pandemic, South Haven saw a 8% drop in visitors based on the bureau's numbers.

"We saw a little less of folks staying at larger hotels and more camping, more renting homes and things like that," Sistrunk said. "People just wanted to be outside."

After Labor Day, things will inevitably slow down for the beach town, but not as much as it used to according to Leder.

"Each year I'm in business I get more people coming throughout the rest of the year," Leder said. "I think we're getting to be known as more of a year round town."

She said fall offers great walking and hiking for fall color leaf peepers, while ice formations on Lake Michigan during the winter attract visitors as well.

It was a sentiment echoed by Sistrunk, who said while weekdays slow down a bit more after the summer, weekends stay fairly booked with empty nesters especially looking for a quiet getaway.

If you're still trying to plan a quick getaway for the holiday weekend, there were still some vacancies at South Haven hotels and rentals according to the visitor's bureau.

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