Ferries are full, the airport is bustling and businesses are looking to go from gray skies to blue.

Memorial Day weekend has arrived and the outlook is one of measured optimism. Many Island businesses say they are well staffed but are also worried that the ever-increasing costs of vacationing on the Vineyard could result in less spending by summer tourists — or not coming at all.

“I think it’s become very expensive to come to the Vineyard, and that is definitely hindering people coming and staying . . . even the day trippers,” said Erin Tiernan, co-owner of Basics Clothing Company in Oak Bluffs.

On the plus side, Ms. Tiernan said this year she has not had to worry too much about staffing.

Jake Gifford, co-owner of Lazy Frog, wants to help you relax. — Ray Ewing

“I’m excited because for the last five, six years, there’s really been a shortage of people wanting to come and work,” she said. “We were inundated with applicants this year, so we’re excited about that.”

While the weekend is an annual litmus test on which way the Vineyard summer may go, it is also a time to reflect on what the holiday truly means. On Friday, children from around the Island will participate in the annual March to the Sea traditions. They will walk from their grammar schools to nearby harbors to honor the fallen by tossing flowers into the ocean.

On Monday, the Memorial Day parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at the American Legion Hall in Tisbury. Several groups will march in the parade, including the Girl Scouts, Scouts of America and representatives from Island police departments.

Refreshments will be served afterwards at the American Legion Hall.

“The importance of Memorial Day is to remember all the fallen soldiers, but also to remember the sacrifices of the family members,” said Randy Dull, the Dukes County veteran’s services officer.

Weather predictions point to sunnier skies this weekend compared to recent weeks, something businesses are hoping will result in an uptick in commerce.

Gay Head lighthouse is popular tour spot. — Ray Ewing

At the Ice Cream and Candy Bazaar in Edgartown, owner Kimberly Averill has noted slower foot traffic due thus far.

“Nobody wants ice cream when it’s cold and rainy out,” Ms. Averill said.

Jake Gifford, co-owner of Lazy Frog in Oak Bluffs, which focuses on all things leisure, also pointed to a slower shoulder season, but noted that in recent days business has picked up.

“Now that the Oak Bluffs ferry is [running for the season], it’s more foot traffic,” he said.

The Steamship Authority is reporting business as usual for the 2024 season.

Mike Creato readies his biplane for a summer of aerial rides.

“Most of the key summer weekends are pretty full,” said Sean Driscoll, the boat line’s communications director. “Those key dates go very early in our booking season.” He added that car reservation spots are still open throughout the summer but that passengers will have to be flexible with the dates and times they want.

At the airport, flight service from Boston, New York, Nantucket, Hyannis, New Bedford, Barnstable and New Haven are up and running. Service to and from Chicago, Washington D.C. and Charlotte will ramp up in June.

Weather has also been a factor this spring at the airport, which had its busiest season ever last year.

“The weather has been hampering a lot of leisure traffic to the Vineyard,” said airport director Geoffrey Freeman. “We’re hoping the weather starts to improve overall.”

But weather isn’t the only concern for Island businesses. Phil Hughes, owner of Wheel Happy bike shop in Edgartown, has also been keeping an eye on rising costs.

“I have kept my rates the same for 15 years now because I’m trying to have a family of four enjoy a bike ride,” Mr. Hughes said.

Trying their luck at Big Bridge. — Ray Ewing

Business owners cite employee housing as another concern.

“Housing is a huge issue,” Ms. Tiernan said. “We have a couple homeowners that we work with that are willing to hold rooms for us at reasonable rates because we rent rooms as the business.”

Ms. Averill said she has also felt the effects of fewer housing options.

“It gets trickier and trickier every year because housing is an issue,” Ms. Averill said. “And the college students go back so early. So you lose a lot of your workforce in August and that’s really hard.”

Some employers, like Mr. Hughes of Wheel Happy, look to hire Islanders so he doesn’t have to worry about his staff finding a place to live.

“I bring in young people who have homes here . . . their parents’ second homes . . . people who live here,” said Mr. Hughes. “My employee age probably starts at 16 and goes to 20 to 21.”

Ready or not, here they come. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Driscoll said the Steamship Authority has also dealt with hiring issues due to a combination of obstacles, including housing, Covid and people retiring.

“Staffing is a concern, not just for us, but for everybody,” he said. “We’re talking about serious, licensed mariners. You can’t just pick one up at a job fair.”

Changing consumer habits have also been noted, particularly at hotels.

Susie Goldstein, co-owner of the Mansion House Inn in Vineyard Haven, said people have begun to reserve hotel rooms closer to their vacation date rather than planning far in advance.

“Pre-Covid, people would realize that they had to secure their hotel rooms a little bit earlier,” Ms. Goldstein said. “I think since Covid, people have gotten into the habit of checking that everything’s okay first . . . . Also, since more people are working from home, they can do more last minute plans.”

John Tiernan, co-owner of the Dockside Inn in Oak Bluffs, has observed a similar pattern.

“I find my length of stay has remained the same but bookings are coming in a lot last minute,” he said.

Both hotel owners said that despite the fact that more people are booking rooms later, they are optimistic about the coming season.

“We’re very happy to have so many heads on beds,” Ms. Goldstein said.