By Ellen Creager, Detroit Free PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News March 27, 2012--Finally, the mojo is returning to the state's $17 billion tourism industry.
After a near-decade-long swoon, travel spending in the state jumped 7.8% last year -- partly due to Michigan's hot "Pure Michigan" branding and partly due to a rebounding economy.
This year, tourism spending should rise another 6%, according to a new Michigan State University tourism outlook report released today by MSU tourism researchers, who are speaking this morning at the Pure Michigan Governors Conference on Tourism here.
Tourism volume and prices in 2012 should rise 3%, the report forecasts, with strong showings statewide.
Tourism is the state's third largest industry after manufacturing and agriculture.
Even if gasoline is $4 a gallon this summer, it should not deter people who are determined to take a vacation, said Dan McCole, assistant professor of tourism at MSU.
Bad weather can affect tourism, but last year was 16% wetter and 3% cooler than normal and travel spending rose anyway, the report showed.
Travel spending data is based on state sales tax and use tax collections.
Due to the state's "Pure Michigan" national advertising campaign, last year was the first time that travel spending in Michigan by non-residents was higher than that of residents, Travel Michigan's Vice President George Zimmermann reported earlier. Last year, there were 3.2 million out-of-state visitors to Michigan who spent $1 billion, a fact highlighted by Gov.Rick Snyder in an appearance before 900 travel officials at the conference Monday night . He said the "Pure Michigan" campaign was enhanced by its partnerships with cities across the state.
"It shows what working together can do," he said.
Asked if the state 's annual tourism budget should be even higher than $25 million, he said although the state has finite resources, the return on investment for "Pure Michigan" dollars has been worthwhile .
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