David Eades Discusses Tourism Boost From Ice Caves

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David Eades Discusses Tourism Boost From Ice Caves

Premiere Date: 
March 7, 2014

The Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau exec. director talks about the caves.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

Polar vortexes may have been unkind to many of us this winter, but the conditions were perfect to turn Lake Superior sea caves into ice palaces. It's the first time in five years conditions created the formations that have attracted tourists from the Midwest, as many as 11,000 people on a single day. Bayfied Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau estimates show that a $10 million economic impact on that area. That's a lot of cheese curds. David Eades is the chamber's executive director. And he joins us now from Ashland and thanks a lot for doing so.

David Eades:

Good morning. Thank you for having me.

Frederica Freyberg:

Now, have you ever seen anything like the crowds for this year's ice caves?

David Eades:

No, we've never seen anything like this.

Frederica Freyberg:

Why do you think that the caves captured the crowds in this way this year?

David Eades:

You know, just the sheer beauty of the caves is something that everyone needs to see. You know, we anticipated that they would be open this year or accessible this year in November, and prepped for a social media campaign. The day they opened we sent out a post, and within a day we had over 100,000 views and 12,000 shares.

Frederica Freyberg:

Wow. Is it the first time that kind of social media has been put in place for the caves?

David Eades:

The chamber has been using social media for many years now, so no. I mean, we plugged the caves, and have plugged the area and the Apostle Islands on social media for a long time.

Frederica Freyberg:

What have the crowds like we suggested, 11,000 in one day, meant for the economy there?

David Eades:

It's been tremendous. I mean, the winter is kind of our down time. You know, we regroup, stores cut back on their hours a little bit, and we have some wonderful events that are going on through the month of February. But this has just been huge and wonderful for the area. Lodging, restaurants, retail.

Frederica Freyberg:

Now, I heard tell that there were even some businesses that may have closed for the winter that kind of reopened because there were just-- there was so much business.

David Eades:

Yeah. I've heard the same thing. There are a number of businesses that extended their hours, opened up just because of this.

Frederica Freyberg:

Did the caves bring a lot of first-time visitors who now want to return maybe this summer and have maybe even already booked their rooms?

David Eades:

The lodgings are telling me that they're booked well a month into advance and are already seeing a huge increase in summer bookings already at this time, so, you know-- And most of the people we have talked to have never been to Bayfield and all want to return. And if you think the caves are beautiful in the winter, they're just amazing in the summer.

Frederica Freyberg:

Yeah. That whole area is amazing in the summer. But, again, kind of how welcome has some of the warmth from the wallets been in this cold, hard winter?

David Eades:

It's been a brutal winter. It's been wonderful. Everyone is just so happy. I mean, you know, they're exceeding 4th of July numbers in hotels and restaurants.

Frederica Freyberg:

That's awesome. So, so good for that economy. What kind of crowds do you expect this weekend?

David Eades:

Well, this weekend's going to be fairly warm, so, you know, we are counting on a huge crowd, you know. People understand that they're not going to be open for very much longer, maybe another week or two. And this weekend is just going to be perfect weather. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if we hit the 25,000 mark again.

Frederica Freyberg:

Wow. Wow. So people should be aware of that, too. They might-- they might have to wait a little bit to get in there and see those.

David Eades:

And it's well worth the wait.

Frederica Freyberg:

All right. David Eades, thank you very much out of Ashland.

David Eade :

Thank you. 


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