'Pure Michigan' cancels winter campaign

Gov.-elect Snyder pushes for action from lawmakers

Don't look for those inspirational "Pure Michigan" ads next month promoting our state's snowy wonderland destinations. They're about to be canceled, Travel Michigan announced today.

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The reason? "Pure Michigan" is nearly pure broke. The Michigan Legislature has not restored the drastic funding cuts that saw the agency's budget fall from $17 million to $5.4 million for the 2011 fiscal year. The autumn "Pure Michigan" ad campaign was already a victim of the budget cuts.

Now, unless a miracle happens before Friday, winter advertising, even for regional markets in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, dies. Such advertising helps Michigan's ski and winter destinations. Spring and summer 2011 advertising also is in peril.

If the Legislature does not act by end of the day Thursday when it adjourns for the year, there will be no chance for funding until well into the new session in 2011, said Travel Michigan vice president George Zimmermann, too late even for spring-summer ad buys.

He said he believes the legislature will act on Thursday.

"I'm optimistic, because it is the right thing to do. A lot of stuff they are deciding to wait on until next session, but we don't have time to wait."

Gov.-elect Rick Snyder said today he'd make it a priority to increase funding for the Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign in January if lawmakers don't approve the additional $25 million this week.

'It's not a question of who gets credit for it, it's the right thing to do,' Snyder said during a press conference at which he announced his directors for natural resources and environmental regulations.

'To the degree it doesn't get done, I would view that as one of the high priorities of the new administration come January 1,' Snyder said.

Snyder said he's not governor yet, so it's up to the Legislature to act on Pure Michigan funding. The House and Senate plan finish lame duck session Thursday and close for the rest of the year.

He would not say where the money would come from to fund the campaign. Snyder was supportive of Pure Michigan during the gubernatorial campaign.

In 2009, when the "Pure Michigan" campaign was fully funded at $28 million, ads were shown all over the country and within our own state, on radio, TV and in print. The campaign won national awards for Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In 2009 it was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 10 tourism promotion campaigns of all time.

The ads from 2006-2009 brought 5 million new out-of-state visitors to Michigan who spent $1.3 billion -- something tourism officials have pointed out repeatedly to legislators, who made steep cuts anyway.