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Local News

Calhoun County Residents Might See Local Swim-Up Bars Soon

Credit: iStock

Armand Jackson

With summer weather making it more warm and humid both inside and out – along with some residents lacking effective air conditioning systems, Michiganders looking to cool off may head the pool especially after two years of isolation. A great option for adult residents wanting to catch up with friends at the pool is a swim-up bar. Swim Up bars are available around the world and are currently in 24 states including Texas, Nevada, California and New York, to name a few. But Michigan can potentially become the 25th state to permit swim-up bars.

On April 12, 2022, Michigan House of Representatives members Rodney Wakeman and John Cherry introduced and co-sponsored  H.B. 5983 and 5984. These bills together would allow public swimming pools in the state to serve food and beverages to swimmers under certain safety guidelines. Representative Rodney Wakeman sponsored H.B. 5983 and John Cherry sponsored H.B. 5984. Representative Rodney Wakeman in a press release stated  “Safely accommodating swim-up bars will add to our economy and fill a void in our tourism industry that currently drives people to hotels and attractions in other states.”

Michigan’s tourism industry has not fared well throughout the past few years. According to data from the U.S. Travel Association prior to the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry was a significant economic driver in Michigan. Back in 2019, domestic and international travelers spent $24.9 billion while visiting. For every $1 million spent in Michigan by domestic and international travelers, 8.2 jobs were created. Travel spending directly supported 139,074 jobs, which made the travel industry the state’s fifth largest workforce. And travel spending generated $3.6 billion in taxes to state and local governments, which helped fund jobs and public programs such as police, firefighters, teachers, road projects and convention centers. Unfortunately, Michigan’s tourism economy drastically suffered after a historic decline of travel in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

The hope is that this bill package will help the travel and tourism industry recover and thrive again. H.B.5983 would allow consumption of food and beverage in public swimming pools, as long as it is served in non-breakable containers and H.B. 5984 would allow pool owners to purchase a $350 annual permit that would allow them to sell and serve alcoholic beverages in a public swimming pool. The Michigan House approved the plan with overwhelming bipartisan support. If this bill passes the Senate, which seems very likely, and is signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, it’s possible for residents of Calhoun County to see their local public and hotel pools have swim-up bars for relaxing day or night out with friends.