PUT-IN-BAY -- Shortly after Gov. Mike Dewine gave the go-ahead for Bars, Pools & Restaurants to reopen, officials at the Put-in-Bay Visitors And Convention Bureau were overwhelmed with phone calls and online bookings.
Local officials stated that midway through the DeWine's update, Put-in-Bay Reservations began to trickle in, and shortly thereafter the center was fielding six lines.
In what could be a positive economic sign for many statewide Ohio Vacation destinations and attractions, the Thursday surprise was a welcomed one. Ohio’s large number of seasonal water parks, amusement parks, and summer camping destinations rely on a successful short summer season to survive year-round.
"We processed over 149 Put-in-Bay Reservations from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. when we stopped counting," said Manager Amber Sommers. “It was clear that people are ready to get out of the house and travel again."
The Put-in-Bay Resort, the island’s largest hotel and home to the popular Blue Marlin Swim-up Bar, were the first to open this year in April as an essential business. They were better prepared to accept the next few weekends of guests as the facility has completed the pre-season-opening routines stated officials.
Local hotels and resorts lost virtually all of April and a significant part of May bookings as Ohioans were ordered to “stay at home.” This order was rescinded several weeks ago, however, erroneous information continued to circulate that the island was “closed.”
"We’ve never been closed since returning from our winter closedown period," stated Lisa Cooper, General Manager of the Put-in-Bay Resort. "Businesses here, much like the mainland, adapted to carry-out only and other familiar precautions."
“Much of the interest may have been sparked by local hotels offering May dates at April rates,” Cooper added. “People are looking for value and they want to stay close to home right now.”
Over 60 million U.S. residents reside within a four-hour drive window of the Lake Erie Islands. Local Officials believe families will be planning vacations closer to home and that does not involve air travel in the near future.
Many island attractions are scrambling to open for the Memorial Day Weekend Bash at Put-in-Bay. Strong demand for hotels and rental homes have had the reservation center busy daily and required extended hours well into the evening to deal with the demand.
“We’re focusing much of our marketing efforts in communities within a four and a half-hour drive,” State Tourism officials stated.
Announcements are expected from Cedar Point and Kalahari Resort, two other very popular northern Ohio attractions over the next few days.
The Put-in-Bay Community maintains an up the minute Put-in-Bay COVID 19 guide with information on how local businesses are preparing for the return of tourists.
Information is updated daily as it is released by the state or the local health department officials. Put-in-Bay Ferry Service is operating on a slightly reduced schedule as demand rises with the onslaught of positive information. The Central reservation center can be reached at 888-742-7829 for Put-in-Bay reservations or additional information about Put-in-Bay.