Hollands Tourism Decision Is Good First Step

June 2, 2003
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The Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has decided to dip its toe into the $1 million Michigan’s West Coast tourism campaign.

Hopefully, the temperature will be to its liking.

As West Michigan’s communities bond and grow into more of a collective force statewide, it’s imperative that the lakeshore communities offer full and enthusiastic support to that overall effort.

But in this case, Holland’s decision is right on the money. There’s no harm in taking an observatory role during the rollout of something new, especially when there was some controversy and hurt feelings at the launch.

While still not endorsing the tourism campaign, the bureau’s board of directors agreed to have the organization handle inquiries received about Holland via West Coast marketing efforts, which include the full support of the CVBs in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Muskegon.

That Holland’s tourism and city officials are willing to rethink an earlier decision to withdraw fully from the effort is certainly a step in the right direction.

Holland CVB Executive Director Sally Laukitis said having two seats on the campaign’s marketing committee will give lakeshore officials a better understanding of the process as a whole. Blending Holland’s expertise into the marketing committee is a key to strengthening the entire operation. It adds another strong lakeshore voice to the process and certainly strikes a balance to what probably will be a convention focus on Grand Rapids’ part.

To make the campaign worthwhile, leisure and convention components are a must.

Signing on for a year will give Holland officials a chance to view the campaign from the inside, offer helpful suggestions and be privy to the decision-making process. It also will allow the Holland bureau to see whether West Coast fits into broader marketing strategies that include cooperating with several other Lake Michigan port communities and the state on the Beachtowns campaign that promotes shoreline destinations.

Holland’s willingness to cooperate in this venture is welcome and necessary for many reasons, and not just from a tourism standpoint.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s decision to locate a satellite office in Lansing, next to the Capitol, already is paying dividends with an increased presence in the state’s political corridors. One early benefit of that decision is better understanding between business advocates from Grand Rapids and Detroit, which are the only two chambers to currently have offices in Lansing.

As Rusty Merchant, vice president of public policy and government affairs for the GR chamber, settles into his Lansing office, expect to see more cooperation between east and west on a variety of business fronts. Although Merchant’s allegiance is obviously — and rightfully — to the GR chamber, it is likely that his efforts will benefit all of West Michigan.

Having cooperation with towns along the lakeshore on a variety of fronts — including tourism — will only serve to strengthen that bond and better represent West Michigan as a whole. 

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