Cragun's 'losing optimism' for the summer with stay-at-home order

Cragun's Resort General Manager Eric Peterson addresses a Senate Committee to present a bleak forecast for the future of his tourism business.

Cragun's Resort is losing optimism about the summer vacation season and the economic fallout from the coronavirus will be "an anchor" on the Brainerd resort for years to come, Cragun's general manager said.

Cragun's Eric Peterson told the Senate Taxes committee that the resort:

  • Has lost more than $2 million in group business through June, and another $2.5 million is in jeopardy
  • Has laid off 160 workers
  • Returned $300,000 in advance deposits on vacation rentals over the past 30 days
  • Will likely take on $2-4 million in additional debt
  • Two-thirds of the phone calls are either to cancel vacations or inquiring about the cancellation policy

"Without even having a plan to reopen, we're losing our optimism for the upcoming summer," said Peterson Thursday. 

Due to equity the company has in its property, Peterson said he expects his business to make it through. 

"It's time to get together and make a plan, start to get some businesses to open up, the ones that are safe," he said. "We have to get people to come back on vacation."

Businesses, including Cragun's, are calling on state officials to let them reopen soon. They're also seeking tax relief to help them deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Lawmakers have considered providing relief but have not reached an agreement.

Peterson said he and other north country business owners are ready to begin accepting guests again. 

"I know that's a narrative in the industry right now that the county commissioners are saying stay away, don't come out of Minneapolis," he said. "We're ready to see some people coming back up here in the Brainerd area."