APRIL FOOLS DAY: Fast Tourism sets frenetic sights on Sleeping Bear

Virtual Leelanau County experience in 60 minutes coming to your smart phone

From staff reports

Fast Tourism, a global digital tourism company with bases in Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi and Beijing, has launched a new app that guides visitors on an efficient, if not frenetic, one-hour tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes region and Leelanau County.

Users are encouraged to maximize their “up north” experience by visiting as many destinations as possible in a short amount of time. The app recommends they spend 5 minutes at the iconic Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, 10 minutes dipping their toes in Lake Michigan at Glen Haven, 10 minutes sampling products and spitting cherry pits at Cherry Republic, 5 minutes in Leland’s Historic Fish Town, and 5 minutes on a wine tasting at Black Star Farms near Suttons Bay, among others.

According to Fast Tourism’s online app, Leelanau County “can be fully experienced, tasted, and spat out” in one hour. Users are recommended to reserve two hours of their time in the Grand Traverse region, however, since the drive from Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport to the Sleeping Bear Dunes can take 30 minutes each direction.

Fast Tourism brand promoters have already recorded 75,000 downloads since they launched the app on February 30. They expect to flood Glen Arbor and surrounding Leelanau County communities this summer with tour buses full of “60-minute visitors” jumping off the bus, darting through stores, filling their glass jars with beach sand, and pausing to take selfie photos before hopping back on the bus.

The company’s PR staff have been busy contacting Leelanau business owners, chamber of commerce personnel and National Park employees to warn them of the coming onslaught of fast tourists and to encourage them to create new “rapid lanes” to accommodate the new class of visitors.

Billy McFarland, creator of the wildly successful Fyre Festival, a music festival held on a remote island in the Bahamas, is the brains behind Fast Tourism.

We’re gonna offer a rockin, kick-ass, lovely experience for all these cats who have heard about the blue waters and tasty delights of Leelanau County, but don’t have the time to fall asleep on the beach, or slowly sip a pint of beer, or go for a boring nature hike in the woods,” said McFarland. “This app will appeal to the high-rolling kids making serious coin in big cities who want to show off their Instagram accounts to their friends, but don’t have days to waste on a sleepy vacation.”

For those who don’t have the time or resources to travel to the Sleeping Bear region, Fast Tourism is working on developing a Virtual Reality (VR) app that allows users to experience an up-north vacation from the comfort of their couch.

All you gotta do is put on the headset and you’re there, watching the seagulls glide over Sleeping Bear Bay, watching the dolphins play offshore, stubbing your toes on petoskey stones in the sand, listening to the sound of an ice cream truck pull up to the beach,” said McFarland. “It’s as good as being there. If not better!”

Story update:

The Glen Arbor Sun reached out to business owners, elected officials, staff at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Leelanau County law enforcement to hear their thoughts on the onslaught of “fast tourists” coming to our region this summer. But we received no response. It seems that the powers-that-be of the county (from Cherry Republic owner Bob Sutherland, to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Scott Tucker, to LVR’s Ranae Ihme, to the County Commissioners, to sheriff Mike Borkovich) were all huddled in the basement of the County Government Center (we couldn’t contact them because there’s no cell phone reception there—none!) trying to wrap their heads around this opportunity/crisis, perhaps exercise damage control, or potentially draft a press release that would encourage tourists to “ditch the one-hour tour and stay a little while.”

Did you believe this story? Shame on you. Happy April Fools Day!!! Fast Tourism is not a thing (at least not as far as we know); Billy McFarland is a con-man of Trumpian proportions (just Google “Fyre Festival”); and Sleeping Bear is DEFINITELY worth more than an hour of your time. … Oh, one thing in this story is true, though: cell phone service is pretty shoddy at the Leelanau County Government Center, and around the town of Lake Leelanau, in general.