Investment pays off: 'Pure Michigan' brings in tax dollars
The state's 'Pure Michigan' campaign has been the source of both acclaim and angst. Touting Michigan's year-round wonders to prospective visitors from throughout the United States and beyond, the tourism initiative has been praised as creative and effective. But it also has been the target of critics who don't think a cash-strapped state government should be spending money to promote private interests. In the fall of 2009, state lawmakers voted to slash tourism spending by more than 80 percent, to $5.4 million. Much of that spending has since been restored. That's a smart move, judging from statistics announced at this week's Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism 2012 in Grand Rapids. According to a study by tourism research company Longwoods International, the Pure Michigan campaign helped draw 3.2 million visitors to Michigan last year. Their collective $1 billion in spending generated about $70 million in taxes, giving state taxpayers a $4.90 payoff for each $1 they invested in the campaign. That is in addition to the nearly 200,000 jobs that tourism provides in the state and the thousands of businesses that cater to visitors. Pure Michigan and a recovering economy are credited with helping increase tourism spending in 2010 by 21 percent over the previous year, and another 8 percent in 2011, according to researchers at Michigan State University.