Word this week that Michigan's tourism industry grew for the third consecutive year in 2012 must be considered good news. Experts attribute the boost to the weather, a steadily improving economy, relative stable gasoline prices and lots of positive press from the state-supported "Pure Michigan" advertising campaign.
The report all of the above came from was generated by Michigan State University, which produces an annual review of tourism in Michigan. The report noted tourist spending should rise 5.5 percent in 2013 after a 6 percent increase last year. It also suggested the number of tourists traveling to and around the state will rise about 3 percent.
A close analysis of the document reveals that Michigan's reputation for producing high-quality local foods, wines and beer is helping at a time when travelers are increasingly interested in food- and beverage-based tourism, The Associated Press found. And statewide, the hotel sector had its highest occupancy rates since 2000 with visits to high-profile attractions such as national parks increasing nicely.
It gets better. Visits to Michigan's lakeshore rose 14 percent in 2012, AP reported. Another popular site, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, drew 1.9 million visitors, a 25 percent increase. Travel Michigan, the state tourism agency, released a consultant's report this week that said the campaign drew 3.8 million visitors to the state last year, who spent about $1.1 billion. Michigan took in $5.76 in taxes for every dollar spent on the campaign, AP found.
Locally, the news was also good, with an official with the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau reporting an increase in tourism in recent years. The official noted that year on year, the number of nights booked in local motels and hotels has increased in nearly every month during the last five years.
Tourism comprises a significant portion of the local, and regional economies. Based on what the state and local officials project, it appears good growth can be expected in the years to come.