‘Safecations’ offer alternative to travel

The VIEW from here



With summer in full swing, vacations are starting to look different this year. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, travel organizations and travelers are taking extra precautions when it comes to vacations.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic travel spending is estimated to drop 40 percent this year prompting travel organizations to change the way they look at how people spend their vacation.

We have seen this trend change how tourism organizations are promoting travel, pivoting toward the idea of “safecations,” or exploring areas in individuals’ city or state with safety precautions such as social distancing in place.

In our region, the Flint & Genesee Chamber’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has changed the ways in which we market the county. For instance, the CVB launched a campaign while the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order was in place telling visitors and locals in our region “We Can’t Wait to See You Again!”

This shift to promoting a region differently leads to unique opportunities for travelers in our community and surrounding regions. Flint and Genesee County has a variety of attractions that are typically unexplored by locals.

For example, last year, the Flint Public Art Project coordinated the installation of more than 100 murals throughout the city of Flint. A great idea for a day-long adventure is taking a car tour of the murals while maintaining safe social distancing practices.

Another safe way to explore our

area is through the Genesee County Parks system which is interestingly the largest county parks system in the state of Michigan. My family’s shared hobby is raising caterpillars.

We have utilized open spaces in our area to find the insect eggs on milkweed. It is a great way to get out and explore while maintaining safe social distancing practices.

Recently, I enjoyed some time at the Mounds ORV Park in Genesee Charter Township for the first time and enjoyed being around others while staying distanced in our vehicle.

A unique facet in Flint and Genesee County are the number of lakes, rivers and waterways surrounding the area. I was recently on Lake Fenton and spoke with a friend about the number of lakes in our immediate area such as Lobdell Lake, Loon Lake and Lake Ponemah – not to mention the number of lakes throughout the rest of the county.

For those who want to get on the water, Kayak Flint in downtown Flint and EZ Kayak and Canoe Rental in Linden provide rental equipment for the Flint River and the Shiawassee River, respectively.

Exploring our area during these times gives citizens in our community a unique opportunity to share what our region has to offer. When people start to travel more frequently again, citizens who took the opportunity to explore our region will have experiences to share with others and, hopefully, a sense of pride for their hometown.

Kristina Johnston is the Chief Operating Officer of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.