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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
ROI data aiding tourism-funding push
(wgvu) - ROI data aiding tourism-funding push

March 20, 2008

By Mark Sanchez

Michigan's chief tourism promoter credits return-on-investment data
assembled in recent years with finally lifting the industry toward a
major boost in state promotional funding.

The data shows promotional spending works, and that's why you're
seeing the results, said Michigan Economic Development Corp. Vice
President George Zimmerman, who oversees Travel Michigan.

Once we started being able to measure results of our efforts,
that's when the tide started to turn, Zim mer man said. We
really started having a credible case.

Evidence of that turn came last week as the 11-member House Tourism,
Out doors Recreation and Natural Resources Committee unanimously backed
legislation to pump $60 million over two years into tourism promotion
and business development. The full House was scheduled to vote on the
measure this week and backers anticipated an affirmative vote.

If the Legislature ultimately approves the full $60 million proposed in
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's State of the State address, Travel Michigan
will use $40 million on tourism promotion, Zimmerman said.

Travel Michigan for several years has received $5.7 million annually
for promotion, primarily targeting Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland and
Ontario, Canada. The amount was bolstered the past two years by a $15
million, one-time allocation from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund,
which also would fund the additional spending the House committee
approved last week.

By contrast, other Great Lakes states spend substantially more than on
tourism promotion. Illinois now spends $50.4 million, Wisconsin has
increased its funding to $15 million annually and Pennsylvania is at $32
million, according to the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association.

In pushing for more money, Travel Michigan cites research data
estimating that the $13.1 million spent on promotional spending from
2004 to 2006 generated 2.6 million new trips to the state by travelers
who spent $517 million.

The net result for the state was $36.2 million in additional tax
revenue, for a return on investment of $2.76 for every $1 spent. Most
of that ROI came in the same fiscal year in which the state spent the
money, Zimmerman said.

If Travel Michigan gets the additional funding proposed, it will expand
the award-winning Pure Michigan campaign to other markets, such as St.
Louis, and do a national cable television buy, Zimmerman said.

The success of Pure Michigan has added to the industry's case for
higher promotional spending, he said.

Everybody now has the confidence that we have the right tools to
sell the state nationally, Zimmerman said.

He hopes the measure can work through the Legislature in time to
increase promoting the state for the summer travel season. To do so,
Travel Michigan needs to place its ad buys soon.
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