State: Pure Michigan campaign prompted 4.6 million trips in 2015

Tourism agency releases new data to estimate Pure Michigan ROI

LANSING — The state says its signature Pure Michigan marketing campaign had its best-ever results in 2015, prompting more than 4.6 million trips to the state.

The data, based on survey results from Toronto-based research firm Longwoods International, suggest those visitors contributed nearly $98 million in state tax revenue.

By contrast, Longwoods estimated the Pure Michigan campaign motivated 4.1 million trips from out-of-state travelers in 2014, generating $85 million in state tax revenue.

Travel Michigan, the state's tourism division housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corp., released the data Tuesday during the Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism in Lansing.

The state uses the estimates from Longwoods, which contracts with the state to evaluate the effectiveness of the Pure Michigan campaign — to determine return on investment for the $33 million effort.

For every dollar spent on the Pure Michigan campaign last year, data show, the state made $7.67 — up from $6.87 in 2014.

Since Pure Michigan launched in 2006, Longwoods estimates the campaign inspired 27 million trips to the state, generated $557 million in state tax revenue and returned $5.15 for every dollar spent since its inception.

"Ten years of this campaign, it has a cumulative effect," said Dave Lorenz, Travel Michigan's vice president.

The state uses the Longwoods data in an attempt to quantify the reach and impact of the popular Pure Michigan branding effort, yet the data are estimates. In its report, Longwoods said it develops analytical models based on a survey of U.S. travelers who have taken a leisure trip in the past three years and plan to take another within two years. The company asked people how many times they visited Michigan during and after the Pure Michigan campaign, and how many ads they could recall seeing.

There is no definitive way to know how many people visit the state, or if Pure Michigan prompted their trip.

Travel Michigan spent $12.7 million on the campaign last year, with most of the spending — $8.7 million — going to national advertising.

State tourism promoters this year have spent about $12 million on national TV ad space. This spring, they launched ads promoting Michigan's craft beer industry, farm-to-table restaurants and — most recently —Detroit's post-bankruptcy momentum.

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