Tourism booming in Michigan

Statewide visitors expected to increase 6 percent in 2012

From staff reports

A story in Crain’s Detroit Business this week reports that tourism is booming in Michigan and will continue rise this year.

The article reports: “According to a study released at last week’s Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Michigan hosted a record 3.2 million out-of-state visitors who spent $1 billion here last year. The state expects a 6 percent increase in tourism this year and is reaching out to farther-flung visitors.”

Read the full story here, or peruse these highlights below:

• “We are expecting a very, very good year for Michigan tourism,” said Dan McCole, an assistant professor of commercial recreation and tourism at Michigan State University who presented MSU’s annual tourism report at the event. McCole projected that — given decent weather — tourism spending in Michigan will increase by 6 percent this year after rising 8 percent in 2011. In 2009, spending was down by about 13 percent, and in 2008 it rose less than 1 percent, according to MSU data.

• Traditionally, Michigan tourism — now a $17-billion-a-year industry — has relied on in-state residents, but business has been hurt by a statewide population decline and fewer people working in high-paying blue-collar jobs, McCole said. However, Michigan tourists are increasingly more educated and more diverse, he said, and he advised travel industry members to ensure they feel welcome at their establishments.

• The kinds of activities tourists are most interested in are shifting. Based on his analysis of Google search pattern volumes, McCole said Michigan tourists are increasingly interested in vacations that involve beaches, food, beer and wine and less in more traditional pursuits such as fishing, golf and boating. Coryn Briggs, director of marketing at winery Black Star Farms, said she expects Black Star to draw an increasingly diverse customer base — including younger consumers. The winery is near Suttons Bay in the Leelanau Peninsula. “Wine is definitely becoming more popular with them,” she said.

This story is sponsored by Art’s Tavern.