NORTH CENTRAL WIS. (WSAW) -- Few people are flying over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, but that doesn’t mean no one is traveling as the Northwoods gears up for a busy weekend in tourism.
A United Airlines commercial plane sits on the runway at CWA, May 21, 2020 (WSAW Photo)
Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA) is typically quiet midday on a Thursday anyway, but unlike normal, the next four days will be just as quiet. Airport director Brian Grefe says around 175 passengers are booked over the next four days (a number that is easily susceptible to change), in contrast with about 1200 passengers flying through the airport last year.
2019 set nationwide records as the second-highest in travel, but the AAA isn’t even issuing a travel forecast this year due to the pandemic—and senior vice president Paula Twidale says they anticipate record lows.
But in the Northwoods, where tourism is a major economy component, local experts say they are still expecting a busy weekend.
“Maybe not quite as busy in past years, but there’s a lot of traffic out there and they’re all heading different directions,” Vilas County Tourism director Cindy Burzinski noted. “They of course have worked really, really hard on following WEDC guidelines to make sure that our travelers are safe and to make sure their workers are safe.”
In Eagle River, lodging, restaurants, and downtown shops are open and practicing guidelines from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, according to Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Emerson.
“The nice thing about Eagle River is that we have activities that naturally provide social distancing,” she noted. She expects a busy weekend as well, noting that travel could actually be higher than normal due to people restless after extended stays at home.