TRAVERSE CITY — Business grew for Michigan’s tourism industry for a third consecutive year in 2012, with help from the weather, good publicity and the “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign aimed at luring visitors from other states, researchers said Monday.
Michigan State University specialist Sarah Nicholls said tourism spending in the state rose by about 6 percent last year. The hotel sector had its highest occupancy rates since 2000 and visits to high-profile attractions such as national parks jumped, she said.
“We can attribute these positive outcomes in 2012 to a combination of factors, including the warm, dry summer and fall, a continued rebound in consumer confidence, relatively steady gas prices and the continuing influence” of the Pure Michigan initiative, Nicholls said. She and colleague Dan McCole are scheduled to present a tourism forecast for this year Tuesday at an industry conference in Detroit.
Nicholls, an associate professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, said the state experienced a ripple effect from glowing reports in national publications and broadcasts. Among them: ABC’s “Good Morning America” program’s designation of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore “the most beautiful place in America.”
Visits to the lakeshore rose 14 percent in 2012, she said. Another popular site, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, drew 1.9 million visitors — a 25 percent increase.
Nicholls and McCole also credited the Pure Michigan campaign, now entering its eighth year, which they described as one of the nation’s top tourism marketing programs. It features video footage of Great Lakes shorelines, trails and other scenic vistas with soothing narration by actor Tim Allen.
Travel Michigan, the state tourism agency, released a consultant’s report at the conference that said the campaign drew 3.8 million visitors to the state last year, who spent about $1.1 billion. Michigan took in $5.76 in taxes for every dollar spent on the campaign, it said.