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The S.S. Badger will return: How ending season early impacted tourism in Manitowoc

Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-13 10:34:07-05
  • The S.S. Badger completed the first step of making a return as the crew got permission to fix the Michigan dock. The ship is on pace to return this spring.
  • Room Tax numbers from August and September actually show an uptick in revenue for the city. Although this is good news for tourism, I'm told there are a few variables.
  • Restaurant owner, Randal Lueptow, says that his newly renovated dinner was seeing record breaking numbers until the Badger shut down. He is very excited to see the Badger return.

The first step in a long-awaited return. The S.S. Badger has permission to rebuild the dock in Michigan. Here’s a look at what the return means for locals and the final tourism numbers after it stopped sailing into Manitowoc.
The S.S. Badger was scheduled to close for the season in October, but because of an accident that damaged the dock in Michigan, it stopped bringing people here in mid-July.

"We are actually the first restaurant on the left when they get off the boat," said Randall Lueptow, owner of Wrap It Up in downtown Manitowoc.

He says after a renovation they were seeing a record-breaking year until the Badger closed.

"We like to be full, we lost a little bit of that, you know, full house," said Lueptow.

While the restaurant saw a little less business being right beside the dock, Director of Tourism for Visit Manitowoc, Courtney Hansen says room tax numbers show hotels generated more revenue for the city in August and September than in those same months last year.

"It's remained really, really strong compared to last year," said Hansen. "Which was a record breaking year for the city of Manitowoc."

The Inn on Maritime Bay manager Pat Reilly says there are a few variables in the room tax. One is the rates were a little bit higher and two is there were events still drawing people to town.

"There's just so many things going on between Manitowoc and Two Rivers. Lots more things going on, especially on the Lakeshore."

But one thing is for certain... many people are anxiously awaiting the return of the Badger!

"I’ll probably have to fight the urge to run down there and hug some people, you know," Lueptow said. "It's going to be fantastic. We really missed them."

"We're going to go outside, we are going to wave. There are going to be so many people on the Lakeshore that are excited."

Although there is no confirmation on exact date, Hansen tells me the Badger is on pace to be back next spring.