Tourism dollars continue upward trend

Alex Doty • May 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Pure Michigan tourism experts say the number of trips and overall travel spending increased across the state last year — a trend that was also observed closer to home.

“The data from 2015 indicated we had a really good year,” Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Marci Cisneros said. “In fact, the tourism industry for our area has shown strong growth the last few years.”

Cisneros said the visitors bureau measures and reports data based on the associated room night assessments in the district. For 2015, the area performed at a 12 percent increase over the previous year.

“The number of annual visitors for the district is estimated at 1.5 million,” Cisneros said. “Economic impact for the area is estimated at $70 million for 2015, up from the estimated $63 million for 2014.”

Pure Michigan experts noted that data from Smith Travel Research Inc. shows that hotel occupancy in the state continued to climb in 2015, outpacing national growth rates. Additionally, Michigan last year recorded the highest occupancy rate, revenue per available room rate and average daily rate since that data has been available. 

According to Cisneros, occupancy rates for the Grand Haven area vary significantly.

“Based on the statistics of the reporting properties, the month of July reflects an average of 80 percent occupancy,” she said, “whereas the month of January the average is closer to 30 percent.”

During the 2016 Tourism Outlook delivered at last month’s Pure Michigan Tourism Conference, Michigan State University researchers reported steady growth in the tourism industry over the past several years, and predicted demand for leisure travel in Michigan will remain high this year.

Local travel experts also say they see travel numbers increasing this year.

“We conservatively project a 5-8 percent increase for 2016,” Cisneros said. “However, there are many factors out of our control that can impact that number — weather being a major factor for our highly recreational destination.”

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