TRAVERSE CITY — Tourism's impact on the Traverse City economy jumped by nearly $300 million in just six years, according to newly released statistics.
The study, by Anderson Economic Group, shows a $1.2 billion economic boost from tourism in the Traverse City area in 2012. That represents an approximate 28 percent jump from $937 million in 2006.
"There’s a lack of understanding about how deep and broad the positive impact tourism has on the community," said Brad Van Dommelen, president of the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Look at the numbers: $1.2 billion invested in our community in one year, and it's not just hotels. They are a small part of it."
The new statistics -- along with the planned renaming of the Convention and Visitors Bureau this week led to a conversation between the Record-Eagle and Van Dommelen about tourism and the region.
Q - What do you say about the ongoing discussion in Traverse City about 'festival fatigue,' or too many events?
"I think we have to be very careful about our discussion in that area. I understand the issue but we have to be very, very careful we don’t swing the pendulum too far in the other direction or have a knee-jerk reaction ... a lot of the festivals that have been complained about being the loudest really don’t have a lot to do with tourism. They are local events. We can’t throw tourism under the bus in the discussion about events and festivals. They are a very very important part. We have to be very careful we don’t end up with unintended consequences.
"The Taste of Traverse City event producer just got a letter from the city saying they are going to refund her reservation fee for 2015 and 2016 because the city is looking at a moratorium on the issuance of high-impact park usage permits. That’s an unintended consequence of this discussion. I doubt very much the police received a phone call or complaint from her event. It was a great event ... it really celebrates our community from the standpoint of being a foodie destination.