Kudos to Michigan legislators for backing ‘Pure Michigan’ campaign

Guest Editorial
The long economic recession makes budget cuts and potential new revenue sources a top priority when the new Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder take over in January.

But the current lame-duck Legislature deserves credit for reaching a deal to maintain some funding for a portion of the state’s award-winning Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign. The return on this investment is well worth the expenditure.

Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., estimates from 2004 to 2008, for each dollar the state spent on out-of-state advertising, more than $40 in spending was stimulated in new visits to Michigan that resulted in $2.86 in new state tax collection.

Most residents are aware of the array of products, from agricultural to industrial, made in Michigan. But tourism in this state is a huge industry, in and of itself.

That fact should come as no surprise to people who live and work here. But, with all the economic trials that have beset our state in recent years, the recreation and beauty that abounds around us are stories that need to be repeated — and often.

Michigan borders four of the five Great Lakes, with Lake Ontario the exception. Water comprises almost half of Michigan. With 3,177 miles of Great Lakes fresh-water shoreline and more than 11,000 inland lakes and thousand of ponds, the state is a paradise for those who love to fish, swim and boat.

Outdoor enthusiasts who love snowmobiling, downhill and cross-country skiing, skating and ice fishing also find much to love about Michigan. There is stark beauty in much of our winter landscape, whether viewed from a sled or the hearth of a roaring fire.

Late last week, lawmakers approved money for both a $1.5 million winter tourism ad campaign and an estimated $10 million spring/summer national cable TV campaign. That decision represents an improvement over what happened this year because the Pure Michigan funding wasn’t in place until March. Critical weeks were missed as the campaign didn’t launch nationally until May.

For 2011, the out-of-state winter campaign will air in markets like Chicago, Indiana and Ohio in January. The spring/summer out-of-state campaign will start earlier next year, too.

We thank our legislators for recognizing the need to invest in spreading this positive message about Michigan through their decision to continue funding part of the Pure Michigan campaign.