TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City’s tourism economy continues to show signs of healthy growth.
A study released in October by Traverse City Tourism Corp. (formerly Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau) demonstrates that we’ve experienced a 4.5 percent growth rate per year since the last tourism economic impact study was done in 2006. This increase surpassed the 2006 study’s projected increase of 3 percent per year growth.
The new study, conducted by Anderson Economic Group (AEG) of East Lansing, confirms that tourism continues to be a major contributor to our area’s economy. The study showed that the Traverse City area welcomed 3.3 million visitor trips in 2012. These visitors spent nearly $1.2 billion dollars in our local businesses that supported 12,000 jobs (directly and indirectly) in the Traverse City area, representing nearly 30 percent of all employment. These visitors also contributed about $67 million to our state in the form of use and sales taxes.
The AEG study also points out how tourism enhances the livability and business climate of the area through what are known as “place-making” attributes. The same quality destination attributes that help build Traverse City’s destination brand for tourism -- a vibrant downtown entertainment and retail district, a wide diversity of quality restaurants, wineries, microbreweries, festivals, galleries and excellent arts and culture -- also enhance the quality of life for our area residents. Traverse City could not support the diversity, variety and quality of these amenities without the economic contribution generated by tourism.
Growth from out-of-state visitors is a significant factor in our area’s tourism growth. In 2006, only 12.5 percent of our visitor volume was coming from outside Michigan. By 2012, that share had grown to about 26 percent, and in 2013 (through September) it had reached about 29 percent. What’s more, this out-of-state growth has not been at the expense of Michigan visitors, since we are also continuing to see growth from within Michigan.
Traverse City Tourism Corp. has participated with the Pure Michigan campaign with our own Pure Michigan Traverse City commercial for the past three years, and we will participate again in 2014. This award-winning campaign has dramatically increased interest in Michigan as a leisure vacation destination. Traverse City Tourism’s own campaign then follows in many key out-of-state markets to communicate to consumers that the Pure Michigan experience can best be found in the Traverse City area.
We’ve continued to add more out-of-state promotion to our mix. Our organization is spending in excess of $3 million in paid media to build and promote our destination brand and about 75 percent of this expenditure is reaching the out-of-state audience. The name change to Traverse City Tourism from Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau is following a trend that started about a decade ago when many “Convention and Visitors Bureaus” began rebranding to a more user friendly name that better connects their mission to the community they work to support.