Economic Development, Marketing, PR & Advertising, and Travel & Tourism

Pure Michigan drives $1.5B in tourism-related spending

Report on campaign shows state ranks higher in safety, excitement level than in years past.

March 31, 2017
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Pure Michigan
The next Pure Michigan campaign will focus on building the perception of safety in Michigan and promoting the state’s vast trail system. Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) A new report from Longwoods International found the Pure Michigan advertising campaign is responsible for $1.5 billion in spending around the state, as well as 5 million trips to Michigan during 2016.

The campaign continued to see a positive return on investment of $8.33 per dollar spent in 2016.

In 2016, the state invested $12.9 million in the out-of-state Pure Michigan advertising campaign in regional markets and the national cable advertising campaign, while out-of-state visitor spending motivated by the campaign generated $107 million in state tax revenue.

The cumulative return on investment for the campaign since 2006 is $5.49 per dollar spent with nearly $9.5 billion in visitor spending and $664 million in state tax revenue generated over the course of the campaign.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the government entity responsible for marketing Michigan, hired Longwoods International of Canada once again to compile the report.

The MEDC has commissioned reports on the economic impact of the Pure Michigan campaign for nearly a decade.

“The goal of the Pure Michigan campaign has always been driving travel spending in our communities to support local businesses and jobs,” said Dave Lorenz, MEDC vice president. “This report is an opportunity to evaluate and confirm we are meeting that goal, while also providing extremely beneficial insights into consumer perceptions of Michigan as a travel destination regionally and nationally.”

Lorenz said he found two pieces of information derived from this year’s report comparing Midwest states particularly interesting.

First, he said a blind survey ranked Michigan higher in safety this year than in the past.

“People, especially in this era of terrorism and uncertainty, want to go to areas where they feel safe,” he said.

Lorenz said for a number of years, the headlines coming out of Michigan centered on negative images of Detroit, which then extrapolated to the rest of the state.

“Detroit is so important to our overall image, and as we present Detroit as a comeback city, people are starting to see that and see Michigan as a safer place than before. People will only go where they feel safe,” Lorenz said. “We have always taken last in that category, but we are no longer in last place.”

He also said Michigan is scoring higher on the excitement index.

“We scored higher in this category of, ‘Do you believe Michigan is an exciting place to visit?’ than we’ve ever done before,” he said. “People look for places they feel are exciting.”

Michigan continued to score well in the areas of outdoor resources and opportunities for enjoying sporting events, which Lorenz said reflects branding efforts included in the campaign.

Lorenz said his team is using the 2016 findings to inform the direction of the 2017 Pure Michigan advertising campaign.

“We need to not only continue to promote Detroit for what it is today but also morphing the America’s Great Comeback campaign into the Urban DNA campaign,” he said. “We are going to put some emphasis into our city experiences; the fun, exciting, vibrant, cool, hip experiences you can have in our urban areas in combination with that more relaxing, nature-based experience you can get in Michigan.”

He also said the next campaign will focus on building the perception of safety and on promoting Michigan’s vast trail system.

Lorenz said promoting tourism to Flint following the water crisis also is a focus this year for Pure Michigan.

“The downtown of Flint has been coming back for a while,” he said. “We need to help them, and we have a strategy to help them and we are working with them.”

Despite its challenges, Lorenz said Flint has a lot to offer travelers.

Lorenz is expecting a good year for travel and tourism in Michigan overall. He said there is a positive perception about the economy right now across the country that likely will benefit the industry and the state.

“The travel industry is expecting around a 3 percent growth in the industry this year,” he said. “That would outpace typical growth in most of the economy the last few years. So, we are hoping that will be the case.”

One factor that could negate that prediction, however, would be any additional terrorist attacks.

“The safety factor is so important. We just had the London terrorism attack, and that is worrying people about travel,” he said. “If there are more terrorism attacks in the world, it will slow down international travel.”

He noted Michigan had the greatest rate of growth of international travel of any other state in the country in the last reporting period, so international travel is an important demographic for Michigan’s tourism industry.

He also said Brexit, the strength of the U.S. dollar and the botched communication around the rollout of the travel ban could factor into travel decisions this year with negative consequences.

“But, bookings are up, so I’m expecting a good year,” he said.

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