State Of State Tourism

April 16, 2007
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EAST LANSING — Projections for the state's coming tourism season suggest another challenging year for the industry.

In its 2007 forecast, MichiganStateUniversity's TourismCenter predicted growth in tourism revenue of roughly 2 percent over the previous year, a substantial drop from previous estimates.

"We were on track to register a 6 percent to 7 percent increase in sales on modest increases in traffic through the peak summer season when the rains came and turned the fall season into a bust for most northern Michigan businesses," said Don Holecek, director of the tourism center.

Still, despite the struggling Michigan economy, high gasoline prices and an exceptionally wet fall color season, the tourism industry managed to increase sales by 3.3 percent in 2006. However, the increase was largely due to price increases; tourism numbers were essentially unchanged from 2005.

A research team led by Holecek projected the number of travelers will increase 1 percent to 2 percent in 2007, and travelers' spending will increase by 4 percent to 5 percent. Travel prices are expected to increase 3 percent to 4 percent.

Factors expected to have a negative impact in the coming months include the continued weakness in the state's economy and high gasoline prices. MSU researchers found that as much as 70 percent of Michigan's tourists are state residents and that more than 90 percent traveled by private vehicle.

There are also positive factors at work. "It would be highly unusual, even in Michigan, to lose the fall color season again this year," Holecek said. "And the full benefit of increased advertising spending and post-Labor Day school-opening legislation will be felt this year."     

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