Mackinaw City Campground Says Package of Senate Bills Will Hurt Small Businesses

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A package of bills now in the house aims to structure how local visitor and tourism bureaus operate, but a local campground says it takes advantage of small businesses.

Over the past year we’ve been following a dispute between Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in Mackinaw City and the local visitors bureau after the bureau decided to raise the fees they collect per campsite.

Now the general manager of Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping is taking exception to the package of senate bills, he says could make things worse.

“Politicians in Lansing are trying to push through, during the lame duck session, a bill that’s going to strengthen the tourist bureau’s hand and it doesn’t help small businesses like us who get hurt by it,” GM Vince Rogala, said.

Vince Rogala says Senate Bills 703-707 hurt small business owners.

“There’s no oversight in this bill, there’s no legal way to opt out, there’s no legal requirement that the entire board represents the entire community,” Rogala, added.

Last winter, the Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau did give Vince the opportunity to opt-out of being a member, rather than pay the increased fees.

“That so-called compromise has a couple problems, first it’s not legally permissible by the law, number two, they didn’t offer it the other campgrounds and number three and this is the biggest one, if we opt-out we are invisible on the number one website that promotes tourism in Mackinaw City,” Rogala, said.

While the new package of bills promise government oversight, Vince says the oversight is in the wrong place.

He wants a group to not just oversee marketing plans, but leadership at the local level.

“Give us oversight so outrageous fees can’t be charged. There should be some agency in the state of Michigan that I can go to and petition. Right now we’ve chosen not to pay the $10,000 fee,” Rogala, explained.

The Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau says they are in favor of the bills and the additional oversight that comes with it.

The House Tourism and Recreation Committee will review the bills in Lansing tomorrow.