As we celebrate National Tourism Week, it seems fitting to reflect on how far we have come as a tourism brand, and where we intend to go from here.
We’ve made tremendous progress growing awareness and driving leisure visits to Michigan. During that first year, the Pure Michigan campaign motivated about 700,000 trips to Michigan, according to Longwoods International. Last year, the campaign motivated 4.6 million trips. Those visitors spent $1.4 billion in Michigan in 2015 generating $97.8 million in tax revenue for the state — money that goes back into funding other key priorities, such as roads and public safety.
The Pure Michigan campaign is aspirational by design, but the bottom line is visitors are spending money at our businesses, supporting jobs in our communities and becoming ambassadors for the state by sharing their experiences traveling here with their friends and family.
As we look to the next 10 years, the Pure Michigan campaign will continue to evolve and grow. This year, we expanded our marketing efforts into activity or “passion”-based campaigns in addition to our traditional destination and event-focused efforts. We want to do a better job helping visitors find how they can do the things they love right here in Michigan.
We premiered four ads this year that feature a new, more energetic remix of the iconic “Cider House Rules” theme music. We will still use the original music in the campaign, but the updated version helps tell a different type of story than we have told up to this point.
One of those stories is Detroit as America’s great comeback story. It’s an inspirational story of community regeneration, and now is the right time to tell it. The industry all across the state has embraced it because they understand perceptions of Detroit impact perceptions of the entire state.
International efforts will also be a growing focus. We have spent a number of years building relationships with travel media and tour operators in Canada, the UK, Germany and China, and we are starting to see tangible results take root. We will also continue to look for innovative ways to engage with international travelers, such as the partnership with Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, Detroit Metro Airport, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to welcome the nearly 1.5 million international travelers passing through Detroit Metro’s federal inspection services facilities each year with Pure Michigan images, as large as 12 feet high and 61 feet long, featuring Detroit cultural landmarks and the state’s natural beauty.
The data is clear — Michigan exceeds expectations for first-time visitors. The men and women working in the tourism industry across the state are delivering on the Pure Michigan promise each and every day. And residents can play a role in welcoming visitors as well through simple acts of kindness such as providing directions or other helpful advice.
Michiganders are travelers, as well, so make this year the year to check at least one item off your Michigan bucket list. Experience a new event or a different part of the state you have never traveled to before. There is no better way to celebrate 10 years of Pure Michigan than to explore this state, its beautiful scenery, interesting cities, authentic destinations and the people who make it great.
Dave Lorenz is vice president of Travel Michigan and lives in Norton Shores.