Although she doesn’t consider her Bloomfield Hills, Mich., hometown a tourism hot spot, criminal justice senior Erica Silver sees parts of her home state as the true “pure Michigan.”
“Especially up north, where there’s more lakes and dunes, and it’s so much more peaceful,” Silver said. “I love going up there.”
In the past year, more people have shown interest in the state thousands of MSU students call home — an increase some experts attribute to an increased focus on national advertising of Michigan’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign.
Last September, the Pure Michigan advertisements were shown at Spartan Stadium for the football season opener and the logo was broadcast around the stadium.
A report conducted by MSU assistant professors of tourism Sarah Nicholls and Dan McCole showed a significant increase in Michigan’s hotel occupancy, consumer confidence in the Midwest region and people visiting the state in 2011, and forecasted a continued positive trend in future years.
Nicholls said hotel occupancy in the state increased about 7 percent in 2011, compared to an increase of 4.4 percent in the U.S. as a whole. Some destinations, such as Detroit, saw an even higher increase, with the city reaching an increase of 10.2 percent in hotel occupancy.
Microbiology junior Rachel Galante, a resident of Birmingham, Mich., said she believes the advertising is working, but was surprised Detroit’s hotel occupancy rate had increased so much.
“The concerts and sporting events are popular, and there’s cool stuff in Detroit, but a lot of that isn’t as well known by people outside of Michigan,” she said.
Michelle Begnoche, senior communications specialist for Travel Michigan, said the support from state government has helped draw tourism with Pure Michigan advertising. She said 3.2 million visitors who spent more than $1 billion in the state were directly motivated to come to Michigan by the 2011 advertising campaign.
For 2012, Begnoche said the state tourism budget will spend a record $12 million on national advertising.
“Our goal at this point is to raise the national profile … and really make it one of the top vacation destinations in the nation,” Begnoche said.
Although variables such as high gas prices could affect the sunny tourism forecasts of future years, Nicholls said she doesn’t believe Michigan’s tourism will be negatively impacted at this time.
“As consumer confidence increases, people spend more money on discretionary items,” she said.
“They’ll still travel, but they’ll be a little bit more careful and thoughtful about controlling transportation costs.”
Silver said if the focus on advertising Michigan’s most beautiful destinations continues, new tourists will keep coming.
“If they keep the advertising going and the weather stays this nice, Michigan definitely won’t have a problem this year,” Silver said.