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      Tourism in the U.P.

      Skiing. Snowmobiling. Camping. Tourism is the lifeblood of the Upper Peninsula, but a stagnant economy has most people sticking close to home. Most businesses in Dickinson County have seen a decline in traffic from out of the state but an increase in local business.

      Is that enough to make up the difference?

      Experts say no. Locals don't stay as long or spend as much money as people from out of the area.

      "We're used to getting the people from the southern states and farther away that would come in and spend the money and stay for the longer periods," said Dianne Peterson, General Manager for Country Inn and Suites. "We're now at shorter stays closer to home."

      Businesses such as the Country Inn and Suites have put together special packages to try to draw in business. However, their rates did rise in January.

      Businesses in the U.P. that rely on tourism usually offer lower prices than other areas of the country, which could make a difference.

      "We are hopeful because we are close to a lot of good markets," said Tom Nemacheck, Executive Director for the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Authority.

      One industry that isn't suffering is downhill skiing. Resorts have been seeing increased traffic in both local and out-of-area business--up to five percent in some areas.

      "The skiers are loyal to their sport, and they may not be able to go to Colorado this year, or Utah, but they're staying home and skiing regionally," said Rick Gregorio, General Manager of the Pine Mountain Ski Resort.

      That has impacted all aspects of their business.

      "Our restaurant business has continued to grow each and every month," Gregorio said.

      What happens when ski season is over, however? Officials are hoping that lower prices and the amount of nature activities available will lure back the tens of thousands of tourists that the U.P. relies on every year.