Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 10, 2009

MSU: Michigan tourism will fall

Projections indicate numbers will drop 3 to 4%

From staff reports

TRAVERSE CITY -- Michigan's tourism industry is expected to drop by 3 to 4 percent this year on the heels of a 6.2 percent drop in travel volume in 2008.

The projections were presented by a research team from Michigan State University at the recent Driving Tourism 2009 Conference held in Detroit. Analysts said the tough economic conditions both in Michigan and throughout the country are expected to create a 3 to 4 percent drop in both travel volume and spending for 2009.

"This year will be an even more challenging year for Michigan's tourism industry because this state, which is typically the source of about 70 percent of our tourists, has slipped even further into recession, and the economies of the other states that we rely on for out-of-state visitors are far weaker than last year," said Donald Holecek, a tourism analyst for MSU.

The projections are based on various travel data collected over the past two years and discussions with a dozen industry experts from around the state. Travel prices are expected to drop 1 to 2 percent this year, in large part because of lower gasoline prices in 2009 after they hovered around $4 a gallon for much of last summer.

Analysts also presented an overview of the 2008 tourism season, where statewide travel volume fell around 6.2 percent from 2007.

In the northern Lower Peninsula, traffic counts were down about 7.5 percent last year while stops at state visitor centers fell 5.1 percent.

Room assessments collected in northern Michigan were down 1.6 percent last year, compared to a 0.5 percent drop statewide.

Nationally, business travel is expected to fall 5.6 percent in 2009, while leisure travel is expected to fall by 3.5 percent.