Are Large Scale, State-Funded Social Tourism Programmes Desirable?
It is the dominant economic activity in some communities. Yet, the impacts of tourism to a community are not widely understood – even where tourism is growing dramatically and should be of the greatest interest or concern.
Analysis of these responses forms the basis of estimates of total visitors, visitor spending, and other visitor characteristics. Tourism provides $160,000 tribal gaming PR annually for a competitive grant program to support local tourism promotion organizations, such as convention and visitor bureaus and chambers of commerce. TICs are required to provide informational or promotional materials on area attractions, and must be in a place that a visitor to the area would be reasonably assumed to stop while traveling to a cultural or recreational destination. TICs must also track visitors and provide staffing to assist travelers. A TIC must be likely to generate increased visitors to the region or state and to make a positive economic impact in the state. Tourism offers grants on a semiannual basis, with January 1 and July 1 application deadlines.
The analysis provided in this report suggests that state-funded tourism promotion is a net loser for states, including Michigan, whereas the MEDC-funded study based on a secret methodology shows wildly positive returns. In light of these two contrasting outcomes, the Legislature should commission a study, overseen by department other than the MEDC and contracted out via a robust competitive bidding process, to further study the economic impacts of spending on the Pure Michigan tourism promotion campaign (Michelle Begnoche, 2011). Additional spending on the program should be suspended until the Legislature can demonstrate with reliable and verifiable evidence that taxpayers are benefiting from this program.
Emily Guerrant, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, email correspondence with Michael LaFaive, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Nov. 29, 2015.
Michelle Begnoche, “Zimmermann Named State Tourism Director of the Year,” Press Release (Lansing, Mich.: Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Aug. 29, 2011), https://perma.cc/4VES-X5VD.
“Michigan 2015 Tourism Advertising Evaluation and Image Study” (Longwoods International, April 2016), 60, https://perma.cc/P85Q-RGYS.