If Michigan's lawmakers don't approve funding for a tourism campaign before their two-week recess starting March 25, the "Pure Michigan" summer ads may be cancelled.
Michigan Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Greg Main says such a move would cost Michigan's tourism-related businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and would reduce state tax collections by millions of dollars.
"At a time when Michigan businesses are already hurting, canceling this revenue-generating campaign would be a tragedy," Main says in a release. The "Pure Michigan" promotion budget in 2009 was $30 million; the appropriation for 2010 is $5.4 million, an 82% reduction and the state's smallest tourism promotion budget since 1995.
National cable TV ads were scheduled to start March 1, but had to be postponed due to the lack of adequate funding, says George Zimmermann, vice president for Travel Michigan, a business unit of the MEDC. "Our media buyers are telling us that April is now sold out, and that May will be soon," Zimmermann says. "If we are not on the air in May, we will have missed the summer travel planning season for this year."
Travel Michigan's 2009 campaign delivered a significant return on investment according to a recent study conducted by Longwoods International, a research firm specializing in tourism advertising return on investment.
According to the study, the national ad campaign last spring and summer motivated 680,000 new trips to Michigan from outside the Great Lakes region. Those visitors spent $250 million at Michigan businesses last summer as a direct result of the advertising program. In addition, these new out-of-state visitors paid $17.5 million in state taxes, yielding a $2.23 return on investment for the tourism advertising.
"Pure Michigan" TV spots aired nationally 7,900 times on 15 cable channels in 2009, and they were seen by an estimated 60 million Americans from coast to coast.
In addition, the study also determined the effectiveness of the campaign on the regional level. Longwoods International assessed the impact of the summer ads on the residents of the Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Ontario, Canada markets.
The regional campaign attracted 1.3 million out-of-state visitors last summer, visitors who spent $338 million at Michigan businesses. The campaign was able to improve its regional return on investment from $2.86 since 2004 to $5.34 in 2009.
The total tourism promotion budget for all seasons in 2009 was $30 million, which ranked Michigan as the sixth-largest state tourism promotion budget in America. The current appropriation for tourism promotion in 2010 is $5.4 million, which would reduce Michigan's state tourism budget ranking to approximately 42nd in the nation.