MASON CITY, Iowa - Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes tourism season. But the pandemic is putting a hold on a lot of those plans.
What was supposed to be held at the Mason City Multi-Purpose Arena last month, the North Iowa Tourism Summit was instead held virtually via Zoom Wednesday morning. Businesses and event organizers shared how they've adjusted their business plans, and how they're preparing to reopen and a possible summer swell.
"We've been open through all of this, but we haven't had any guests. We've had one reservation that's been made since march 6th. We've been starting to do afternoon teas, and they were going really well. We had some scheduled for April and May which we've had to cancel, but we are hoping maybe in June that we could have them. We've got it situated to where we would be able to adhere to the guidelines," Larch Pine Inn owner Paula Hanus said.
Music Man Square is hoping to reopen next month.
"We're moving forward the best we can. We're hoping to reopen at the beginning of june, depending on how everything works out. We're probably going to start very limited on our tours. A lot of stuff has been cancelled or postponed through later this summer and into the fall," Nick Whitehurst with the Square said.
One idea to keep people involved in the mean time are virtual tours.
"I'd be happy to come and do a Facebook live thing," Sara Broers with Travel with Sara and the Midwest Travel Network said.
"It's not something to necessarily invest a lot of money in, but I'm definitely interested in working with whomever to build our library of those virtual experiences," Visit Mason City Executive Director Lindsey James said.
"These are the types of things that are going to bring us out of this. We're all in this together. A lot of the things Mason City and Clear Lake are doing are what other destinations in the Midwest aren't doing right now. We work with 1,100 tourism people across the Midwest, and I'm not seeing this sort of thing," Broers added.
A few Clear Lake events that draw sizeable crowds are being pushed to later dates. The TRI Triathalon will instead be held on Labor Day weekend, as well as online. Thursdays on Main, which were tenatively slated to begin this month, will begin in June. A decision regarding Bicycle, Blues & BBQ has not yet been made. In Mason City, the first Friday Night Live in Downtown will take place June 19th as scheduled.