Study: Pure Michigan ads attracted record number of out-of-state visitors

The state received $4.90 for each dollar spent on Pure Michigan adver- tising in 2011, says Longwoods International, a travel consulting firm. (michigan.org)

A state of Michigan-sponsored study finds that last summer's Pure Michigan advertising campaign attracted a record number of out-of-state visitors to the state in 2011.

The $14.2 million Pure Michigan campaign motivated an estimated 3.2 million trips to the state year and a projected $1 billion in spending at state businesses, according to Longwoods International, a Toronto-based travel consulting firm. The projections are based on an online survey of more than 5,100 adults and a margin of error of plus-minus two percentage points.

"The Pure Michigan campaign is delivering impressive results for our state, bringing millions of new visitors and their dollars to Michigan," Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.

An estimated 2 million visitors generated by Pure Michigan last summer came from the Great Lakes region and 1.2 million were from elsewhere around the country, according to Longwoods. By comparison, the study estimates that Pure Michigan summer advertising in 2010 motivated 1.2 million from the Great Lakes region and nearly 900,000 from more distant markets.

The state received $4.90 for each dollar spent on Pure Michigan advertising in 2011, Longwoods estimated. The cumulative return of the Pure Michigan campaign since it started in 2006 is $3.70, up from $3.29 last year, according to the study.

"This data shows steady increases in both the number of visitors Pure Michigan is bringing to the state and the amount of money they are spending at Michigan businesses on those trips," said George Zimmermann, vice president for Travel Michigan, part of the private-public Michigan Economic Development Corp., in a statement. "We are only in our fourth year of national advertising, but we are making progress toward our goal of making Michigan one of America's most popular summer vacation destinations."

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free enterprise think tank in Midland, has argued that tourism-related businesses should pay for the Pure Michigan campaign instead of state taxpayers since they supposedly benefit most from the subsidy.

The Longwoods International study indicated it generated the estimates based on "indirect" questioning of survey participants to discover their attitudes toward Michigan. The increased tourism spending was based in part on Longwoods' findings that survey participants in the Great Lakes region showed improved perceptions about Michigan in almost every category compared with the year before — from being a "family destination" to being "exciting" — and had a better perception of the state than regional competitors including Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

This year's Pure Michigan national advertising campaign will spend $12 million to air more than 5,000 Pure Michigan TV commercials on cable network channels through June, according to Travel Michigan.

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