A good year for tourism

Researchers at Michigan State University say tourism spending in Michigan was strong in 2013 and is poised for another robust year in 2014. Dan McCole and Sarah Nicholls, of MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability presented their annual report today (Monday) at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference in Traverse City. The MSU researchers say factors fueling the upswing include an improving economy, several national tourism trends and the success of the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign both nationally and internationally. McCole predicts tourism spending, as measured by hotel and motel tax receipts, will increase 4.5 percent in 2014 after experiencing a 4 percent bump in 2013 and 6 percent increase in 2012. Hotel occupancy increased nearly 2 percent last year and car traffic on the state’s international bridges and tunnels was also up. According to Nicholls, awareness of Michigan as a tourism destination continues to rise. She notes that nearly all of the additional $4 million allocated to the state’s Pure Michigan campaign for 2013-14 is being spent on advertising in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and China. The MSU researchers say tourism spending was strong last year despite the fact temperatures were 9 percent cooler compared to 2012 and visits to the state’s national parks were down. Helping the cause were lower gas prices and positive news coverage such as Mackinaw City ranking as the top tourist town for families and Grand Rapids being voted Beer City USA for 2013.  (MRN)

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