Weak Start to Tourist Season in Ashland

, Posted: Mon, May 28 2012 at 4:04 PM, Updated: Mon, May 28 2012 at 7:32 PM

Charter bus driver Steve Holmes has been driving drama groups from Reno, Nevada to Ashland for the last 5 years and he said this year the town looks different.

"[Usually] sidewalks are really crowded, a lot of cars traveling up and down the road," he recalled.

But this year?
"There's nobody walking on this end of town [...] there's just not as many people here," said Holmes.

With fewer people walking the streets of Ashland, some hotels say they're taking a little bit of a hit

"This weekend is actually a little bit slower," began Allison Twiest who works at the Best Western Bard's Inn located in downtown Ashland.

"This is kind of an off weekend for us," she continued.

Down the road, business was also off for the Water Street Cafe which opened this Memorial Day weekend.

Part-owner Nathan Ruff said it's been abnormally slow with seats sitting empty.

He credits it to a bad economy and high gas prices.

But a bad economy didn't stop some tourists from making a cross country trip all the way from Rhode Island.

"We began in Portland and worked our way down," said Paulette Levy, a tourist from Rhode Island.

However, once she and her husband Ken rented a car and took to the road...

"It was a surprise when we [...] saw the gas prices over $4 we're not used to seeing $4 gas on the East Coast," said Ken Levy.

Meantime, driver Steve Holmes said his charter bus is the only one in downtown Ashland.

"Usually there's a lot of charter busses as far as I know i'm it," said Holmes.

A weak start to tourism season, something business owners hope isn't a continuing trend.

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