Despite Economy, Michigan Increases Tourism Spending

Pure Michigan Michigan is running its first-ever national tourism campaign, including a $10 million national cable TV buy. State officials say it's a sound investment, since it will help diversify the state's economy. Four new television commercials will air more than 5,000 times nationally on cable TV.

The "Pure Michigan"-themed ads showcase Michigan's greatest assets, from its more than 800 public golf courses and resorts to four national parks, from urban treasures and world-class destinations to outdoor adventures. The campaign will run through June on 15 national cable channels: Golf Channel, Travel Channel, A&E, Bravo, Style, Fine Living, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, E, DIY Network, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Fox News.

"At a time when many states are reducing their tourism promotion efforts, we have the largest budget for tourism promotion in Michigan's history at $30 million," says George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.



Michigan's tourism promotion budget has grown dramatically in recent years -- from less than $6 million in 2005 to $30 million in 2009, which was part of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's economic stimulus program for the state. Annual independent return on investment research has shown that Michigan's tourism promotion spending generates more for the state treasury than it costs. Specifically, for each dollar Michigan spent on out-of-state advertising from 2004 through 2008, new visits to Michigan motivated by that advertising created more than $40 of spending at Michigan businesses and generated $2.86 in new state tax collections.

Visitors spend $18.1 billion annually traveling in Michigan, generating $874 million in state taxes, and accounting for 192,000 jobs statewide.

The travel industry has taken major hits from the economic meltdown, but that just means destinations need to market themselves even more aggressively, says Maura Gast, chairwoman of Destination Marketing Association International and executive director of the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in Irving, Texas. The road to recovery will be much longer if a destination stops marketing itself, Gast warns, while acknowledging that the tourism industry is trying to "dodge an asteroid."

The Pure Michigan campaign will also air in Travel Michigan's traditional markets of Chicago; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and South Bend, Ind.; Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wis.; St. Louis; Toledo, Ohio and Southern Ontario. In addition, the campaign appears in-state in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Traverse City.

Michigan native and television personality Tim Allen voices the national consumer television commercials. A separate campaign aimed at businesses is voiced by actor Jeff Daniels, who is also a Michigan native and current resident. The official Michigan travel information site,, features more than 12,000 attractions, events, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. The site highlights special travel deals for golf and other warm weather activities for all ages and interests. In 2007 and 2008, was the most popular state tourism Web site in America.

In conjunction with the campaign, the state is hosting an online photo contest at Entries can be uploaded until June 29, and prizes will be awarded by People's Choice. The 25 most-viewed images on the map will be presented on the date of the entry deadline, and all Internet users can cast a vote for their favorite photo. The voting deadline is July 15.

Also as part of the campaign, hundreds of professional travel writers and photographers are visiting the state this month for tours. This year's familiarization tours include the Society of American Travel Writers Association Western chapter meeting and the Travel Michigan FAM tour program. The Outdoor Writers Association of America will hold its annual conference in Grand Rapids in June.

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