By Brad Van Dommelen
---- — Here we are, at the height of another tourism season in the beautiful Traverse City area, and from early indications it looks as though this could be another record-setting season for business activity.
If you are a license plate watcher like me, you will also have noticed that a significant number of our visitors are non-Michigan residents. On a recent Sunday morning, I counted plates from 11 different states on a single block of Front Street. These weren't just from neighboring states, either; they included New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Texas, Missouri and others.
For decades, visitors to Traverse City and most other Michigan destinations came almost exclusively from within the state. Each summer, droves of auto workers headed "Up North" to spend their vacation time on our beaches and bays. But those days are gone, and the competition for the lucrative discretionary dollars from leisure travelers has never been tougher.
Fortunately, the popular Pure Michigan campaign has given Michigan a new competitive edge that's helping to turn the tide. Michigan is fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature who understand how the Pure Michigan campaign is stimulating new interest and investment in our state.
Pure Michigan is much more than a campaign to make us "feel good" about our state. Even though, as a young campaign, its full potential is still to be realized, it has already proven its ability to fuel economic activity and improve Michigan's image across the nation. And this campaign is about much more than just filling hotel rooms. A strong tourism economy directly benefits many businesses in communities like ours including: restaurants, convenience stores, automotive repair, gas stations, golf courses, museums, entertainment facilities, wineries, retailers and more.
Annual studies by Longwoods International demonstrate that the Pure Michigan campaign is also a wise financial investment for our state to make. In 2011 the campaign brought 3.2 million visitors to Michigan, spending nearly $1 billion dollars and generating almost $70 million in new taxes for our state. This represents a return to the state of $4.88 for each dollar the state invested in the campaign. In addition, the return for Michigan businesses was significant as well. For every dollar invested in the campaign nearly $70 was spent in Michigan businesses.
The state's investment in the Pure Michigan campaign also helps marketing initiatives from organizations like ours to be more successful. The Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau's marketing message is much more effective in attracting visitors if their interest and curiosity about Michigan has been awakened. This is an effective and sensible form of public/private collaboration that is working well.
Pure Michigan is working for Michigan.
About the author: Brad Van Dommelen is President and CEO of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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