Letter: Pure Michigan works

Re: Michael Hicks and Michael LaFaive April 18 column “The Pure Michigan program needs to end”: In the opinion of thousands of tourism job providers across the state, the impact of the Pure Michigan campaign has been phenomenal. But The Mackinac Center has long opposed state funding of the campaign. As such, it’s no surprise that Hicks and LaFaive have developed a “study” that suggests that the campaign doesn’t work.

The Center’s “study” conflicts with lodging and tourism customer compliments amassed over the past 10 years. Pure Michigan has become an icon, winning numerous national awards since 2006.

The impact of this campaign is measured in return on investment figures developed by Longwoods International each year. In 2015, each dollar invested in Pure Michigan generated $7.67 in new tax revenues to the state.

The Mackinac Center questions the validity of this figure because Longwoods won’t reveal the means by which they calculate ROI. What the Center describes as “cloaked in secrecy,” millions of businesses around the world call “proprietary information.” You won’t see competitors on Mackinac Island swapping fudge recipes either.

Advertising works. However, the Mackinac Center claims that state-funded advertising has no positive impact on attracting tourism. We disagree.

When a campaign is effective, it finds greater traction with each passing year. Logically speaking, the source of funding has absolutely no impact on the effectiveness of any ad campaign.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen tourism employment levels increase from a recession-induced low of 142,000 to over 214,000. Tourism spending outcomes have increased by billions of dollars, as well as in tax revenues paid to the state.

Improvements in our state and national economy drove much of this happy story. But to suggest the campaign had no role in any of this ignores the fact that tourism growth in Michigan is outpacing other leading industries. Just ask our seasoned business professionals and communities who continue to invest in the world-renowned Pure Michigan brand.

Deanna Richeson, President/CEO

Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association