2011 – A good year for tourism in Michigan

2011 is a year of rebound for Michigan’s tourism industry as the state slowly recovers after the effects of the economic downturn.  The projections by Michigan State University researchers forecast a 4% rise in tourism spending and a 3% rise in volume at Kalamazoo, during the Pure Michigan Conference.

According to Dan McCole, 2010 showed signs of recovery which are expected to continue in 2010.

“Tourism is discretionary spending and discretionary spending is tied to confidence,” said McCole, an assistant professor of commercial recreation and tourism. “It’s become less distasteful to spend again.”

However, McCole cautions that  these trends don’t mean a return of high numbers of visitors and of high spenders. His projections, based on a rise to $16 billion from 2009 to 2010 support his statement.

McCole’s fellow researcher,  Sarah Nicholls pointed out traffic increases on the state’s highways as well as the Mackinac and Blue Water bridges.

Although higher gas  prices are a concern, they will not affect tourism unless a more substantial increse occurs.

The rise in tourism due to the Pure Michigan event have also been stimulated by a $10 million ad campaign contracted by Governor Rick Snyder, a true success story in tourism marketing.

The extra money generated by the touristic growth will help fund regional campaigns targeting major cities like Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland and Indianapolis, to keep the tourists coming after the conference.

McCole said the outreach is important for a state that’s lost population and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“We had high-paying white collar jobs, high-paying blue-collar jobs — we didn’t need to look outside Michigan to attract people,” he said. “We’re a different state now.”

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