Tourism spending in Michigan expected to rise again this year

Apr 16, 2013

Researchers predict tourists will pump more money into the Michigan economy this year.

Tourism spending in Michigan went up by about 6 percent in 2012, and Michigan State researchers say the state should see a similar increase this year.

They predict a 5.5 percent increase in spending for 2013.

Michigan State University experts, Sarah Nicholls and Dan McCole, released their annual tourism forecast today at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Detroit.

More from an MSU press release:

Nicholls said The Henry Ford in Dearborn had a record year with visits up 25 percent, to 1.9 million. Visits to Michigan’s popular national parks – including Sleeping Bear Dunes, up 14 percent; Pictured Rocks, up 6 percent; and Isle Royale, up 5 percent – far outpaced the 1 percent average increase at all national parks across the country.

In the state’s hotel sector, 2012 saw the highest occupancy rates since 2000, added Nicholls...

“We can attribute these positive outcomes in 2012 to a combination of factors including the warm, dry summer and fall, a continued rebound in consumer confidence, relatively steady gas prices and the continuing influence of the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign,” Nicholls said.

Despite the positive trends, the researchers say something unexpected could change things. They're waiting to see how the economy will fare when the effects of the sequester budget cuts set in.

The researchers say Michigan fits well with many tourism trends occurring around the country.

Those trends include:

Food- and beverage-based tourism: Travelers are increasingly interested in experiencing the culinary offerings of the places they visit. The word is getting out about Michigan’s local food movement and the state’s growing number of high-quality wineries and microbreweries.

Touring: There are a growing number of people choosing to travel from place to place on their vacations, rather than staying in one spot.

Nostalgia: Parents and grandparents want to share with their kids experiences they either had as a kid or wish they had. “The messages of the Pure Michigan campaign tie nicely into this trend,” McCole said.

Social networks: Increasingly, people make tourism decisions based on recommendations from friends and family, and Internet-based social networks such as Facebook have allowed them to spread the word more effectively than in the past. This means many new people are being introduced to Michigan through shared stories from trusted sources.