Behind that romantic stand of pines, a history of abuse

Capital News Service
LANSING — Long before “Pure Michigan” lured tourists and vacationers Up North, images of pristine forests and sparkling streams were doing the same thing — even if what tourists would see was neither pure nor pristine. While the state’s slick tourism campaigns of the recent decades are familiar, people might not know that they hark back to post-Civil War advertising that romanticized the state’s nature “and gave it the transcendent qualities that remain in tourists’ imaginations today,” according to a recent study. The study by Camden Burd, who grew up in Grand Rapids and spent summer vacations on Green Lake in Interlochen, dates the current “Pure Michigan” theme to a 2008 rebranding of the state’s tourism industry. He described the campaign as intended to boost tourism amid the Recession and to connect with the public’s feeling of nostalgia and “longing for tranquility and the restorative potential of a communion with nature that was untouched, uninhabited and idyllic.”
“When the Pure Michigan campaign really kicked off in 2008, it was painted with a really broad brush” and focused on such topics as “forests, water, rest and relaxation,” with photos of forests and shorelines, Burd said in an interview. Later the campaign expanded to promote urban destinations such as Detroit and Jackson.

Branding St. Ignace to lure tourists, businesses

Capital News Service
LANSING – Creating a community’s brand is more than a logo and a few billboards along the highway. An effective branding strategy promotes recognition and can also unite community residents. “Some people have an impression in their minds of what a city sort of is, and by branding you develop this image and have some control over what that image is going to be,” said Suzeanne Benet, Seidman Marketing Department chair at Grand Valley State University. In the case of St. Ignace, the area is picturesque and historically preserved, according to Pure Michigan, the state’s tourism promotion agency.

Despite Setbacks, Michigan Tourism Remains Pure

By Ian Wendrow
Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING-As news of Wayne County’s financial trouble spreads across Michigan and Detroit continues to pick up the pieces from its historic bankruptcy case, one would be fair in believing that the spirit of travel had fallen in recent years. Looking at basic economic figures, the future for Michigan’s vast tourism industry looked dire even before the recession or the bankruptcy hit. “Things started to bottom out near the end of [Former Governor Jennifer] Granholm’s term,” said David Lorenz, Manager of Industry Relations and International Marketing for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The economic draw-down overall hit Michigan harder than most, since much of the state’s finances derives from manufacturing, specifically cars. “We weren’t diversified well enough, so under our philosophy under the Granholm administration we really started taking this diversification thing seriously,” said Lorenz.

Mackinac summer means new businesses, exhibits

Capital News Service
LANSING – New businesses, new history exhibits and new members of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission kick off the island’s approaching tourism season. Named as the 8th most-pristine destination island in the world by National Geographic, Mackinac Island attracts more than 1 million visitors each year, according to the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. As the second-largest industry in the state, tourism brings in more than $17 billion annually, according to a report from Michigan State University. Mary McGuire, executive director of the bureau, said several new businesses that offer recreational activities will open this season, including Great Turtle Kayaking, Green Planet Extreme Kayaking Tours and Spirit of the North Yoga. “The businesses here do all they can to update each season.

Bad roads could turn tourists away

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan’s deteriorating roads aren’t equipped to handle the extra traffic from the growing number of tourists throughout the state, and some officials fear bad roads could turn tourists away or give them a bad first impression. A lot of money goes into Pure Michigan and it’s been “wildly successful,” but the first impression of Michigan for many people is bad, dirty roads full of potholes that detract from the state’s beauty, said Kirk Steudle, director of the Department of Transportation (MDOT). Pure Michigan is an ad campaign that promotes the state as a tourism destination. Indicators of statewide tourism increases include record hotel occupancy in 2012 and increased out-of-state spending, according the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Pat Black, director of the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “It’s great the state gives us $25 million a year for Pure Michigan, but there are more and more people on the roads wearing them down.”
“We’re really shooting ourselves in the foot,” Black said.

Ad money pays off, increasing state tourism

Capital News Service
LANSING – Pure Michigan, regional tourism organizations and researchers are working together to attract visitors from out of Michigan, and spending less money to do it than other states. “In 2012 there are six outstanding states for tourism. Among them Hawaii spends $75 million on advertising, California spends $61 million, Florida spents $36 million and Michigan’s budget is only $25 million,” said Paul Stansbie, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University. Stansbie said despite the challenged economy last year, the number of tourists increased 4 percent throughout the world. “People still travel — the only change is how much they spend on their trip,” he said.

Drought's impact on fall foliage tourism still unknown

Capital News Service
LANSING – Will a drought-shortened color season blunt the impact of Great Lakes fall tourism? Stress induced by the dry summer may have leaves starting to fall a week or so earlier than normal, said Bert Cregg, a professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Forestry. The truncated season has some tourism officials concerned. The fall colors attract a lot of visitors and money to the state, said George Zimmermann, vice president for Travel Michigan, a public-private partnership that encourages tourism. It is featured in the state’s promotional advertisements.

Up North luring tourists with dogs, bikes, skis

Capital News Service
LANSING – The wind is cooler, leaves are changing color and winter is around the corner but Northern Michigan experts say they can lure tourists this fall and winter. Pure Michigan revealed its new fall advertising campaign, Michelle Begnoche, communications specialist said. “Michigan really is a four-season state,” Begnoche said. “Residents from across the country will travel to see our fall color displays in Northern Michigan, along with the great cider mills that we have to offer.”

The program’s advertising budget is around $2.6 million and includes almost $400,000 in private funding. “We are working really hard to get people to travel here,” she said.