South Haven sees tourist numbers rebound after 2020 slowdown

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

South Haven has seen an increase in accommodation after a slight slowdown in 2020, according to South Haven-Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Jennifer Sistrunk.

“People like to go to the beach and then come here, have dinner, do a little shopping,” said Roxanne Leder, owner of Decadent Dogs in downtown South Haven.

A woman visiting from Indianapolis said she looks forward to spending time at the 45th Annual Craft Fair in Stanley Johnston Park on Saturday and Sunday.

“I love shopping, we were on a boat yesterday. We had a great dinner last night,” the woman said.

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

The Visitors Bureau has members who accommodate 10 or more people. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, South Haven saw an 8% drop in visitor numbers based on office figures.

“We saw a little less people staying in bigger hotels and more camping, more houses to rent 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 before according to Leder.

“Every year that I’m in business, I get to see more people throughout the year,” Leder said. “I think we are becoming more known as a city all year round.”

She said fall offers great walks and hikes for fall colored peepers, while the ice formations on Lake Michigan during winter draw visitors in as well.

It was a sentiment shared by Sistrunk, who said that while weekdays slow down a bit more after summer, weekends remain pretty reserved with empty nests, especially looking for a quiet getaway.

If you’re still trying to plan a quick getaway for the holiday weekend, there were still spots available at South Haven hotels and rentals according to the Visitors Bureau.

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