Tourism Continues to Be Economic Driver in Michigan

Release Date

Kathleen Achtenberg
[email protected]

  • New campaign insights include first ever national Pure Michigan fall campaign.
  • Pure Michigan campaign provided visitors with ideas that led to more active, longer trips with higher spending in 2019.
  • Pure Michigan continues to evolve campaign strategies to target new audiences and inspire travel to the state in new ways.

LANSING, Mich. – As the Pure Michigan brand continues to evolve and drive new out-of-state visitors into the state, a report released today at the 2020 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism provides insights into how new strategies and tactics are helping to deliver a positive economic impact in the state.
For the first time ever in 2019, Pure Michigan ran national advertising to promote fall travel opportunities in the state, while also putting a greater emphasis on digital efforts during the spring/summer campaign efforts. Today’s report, released by SMARInsights, highlights this significant shift in seasonal spend and demonstrates a continued positive return on investment while also indicating the campaign provided visitors with ideas that led to more active, longer trips in 2019.
“By looking at both the warm weather and fall campaigns at a national and regional level, we can get a more holistic view of the impact of our campaign strategy at driving leisure travel in Michigan,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “The insights that are part of this report provide an informative look into what elements of the campaign are resonating with people, where we have room to improve and help us make strategic decisions that ensure we are dedicating resources to the opportunities that have the greatest impact moving forward.”
In response to the market realities of increasing media fragmentation and streaming sources, the Pure Michigan campaign has continued to evolve its practices to build new seasonal awareness nationally, while putting a greater emphasis on digital efforts to target new audiences and inspire different travel experiences in the state. The study found that in 2019, approximately 5.8 million visits were made to Michigan from outside of the state as a result of exposure to the Pure Michigan warm weather and fall campaigns. These visitors spent $2.3 billion in communities and local businesses across the state, slightly down from $2.4 billion last year.
Additionally, the report found that awareness and recall of the Pure Michigan ads were high, especially with television ads. Michigan is perceived as excelling as an outdoor destination, particularly for water-based recreation and is considered especially attractive for its outdoor scenery and fall colors. The report also showed that Michigan is perceived as having excellent culinary experiences, vineyards, breweries, night life, and urban experiences – many activities that have been highlighted through campaign efforts in recent years.
With new assets including ads for “Dark Skies” and “Facts” featuring new elements of activities and attractions in the state, the campaign reached the top 10 percent of performance for similar campaigns for generating interest in learning more about and visiting the state. Additionally, the campaign creative performed above average for all age demographics, with millennials jumping to well above the top 10 percent performance benchmark for wanting to visit the state after exposure to the campaign.
The result of these trips and visitor spending was a return of $8.79 for every dollar spent on the combined Pure Michigan warm weather and fall campaigns in 2019. In 2019, $16.1 million was spent on the out-of-state Pure Michigan campaigns in regional markets and the national cable advertising campaign, while out-of-state visitor spending of more than $2.3 billion motivated by the campaign supported $141.9 million in state tax revenue.
“These numbers show that advertising – and our related efforts in public relations including our own social and digital channels – continues to drive travel and the Pure Michigan campaign continues to drive economic growth, supporting statewide economic development efforts to showcase Michigan as a great place to live, work and play,” Lorenz said.
View the full report here.
Strategic Marketing and Research Insights, LLC, (SMARInsights) is a travel and tourism focused research organization.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy.  For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit  For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.