It's not often there is nearly instant proof that an advertising campaign like the Pure Michigan effort is paying off. Moving bodies isn't like moving sofas or tires; getting people to decide to spend their vacation dollars somewhere new is usually a long-term deal.
But the folks at the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau say expanding its marketing to focus on residents outside of Michigan helped make 2012 a record year for tourism here. The expanded campaign has been fueled by a 3 percent increase (from 2 to 5 percent) in hotel and motel room assessments that took effect in April 2011 and generates close to $5 million annually.
Convention & Visitors Bureau President Brad Van Dommelen told the annual meeting of the CVB that data from an international tourism research firm shows an increase in key tourism benchmarks. Smith Travel Research said room occupancy as of Oct. 31 was 60.96 percent here compared to 58.9 percent statewide and 63.2 percent nationally.
Alex Mowczan, president of Summerside Properties LLC, which owns the Comfort Inn, Best Western and Cambria Suites in Traverse City, said his properties have seen a jump in out-of-state visitors, which means new money coming in to the state, not just Michigan money being recirculated.
The CVB's advertising budget has jumped 350 percent in the past two years and includes a partnership with Pure Michigan. Paid ads exceeded $3 million for 2012, including print, TV, radio, billboards, video on large screens in New York City's Times Square and "wraps" on Chicago buses. Seventy-five percent of the money is now channeled into campaigns targeted at other states and countries.
Tourism makes our economy go; a record year could hardly have come at a better time.