Travel Michigan launches $3M ad campaign highlighting winter recreation

The Pure Michigan travel promotion returned this month with a $3 million campaign to promote the state as a winter destination.

Travel Michigan will run broadcast, online and social media ads through February within the state and in key out-of-state markets around the Great Lakes region. The ads focus on winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

“As winter approaches, adventure awaits us in the form of downhill skiing, fat-tire biking or snowshoeing epic backcountry landscapes,” Dave Lorenz, the vice president of Travel Michigan, a unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said in a statement. “Whether you are an enthusiast seeking a new adventure or a family looking for the perfect winter getaway, we encourage everyone to head out and experience the season the way it’s supposed to be experienced.”

Travel Michigan will run the ads within the state in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Lansing, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Traverse City, Cadillac, Marquette and Alpena. The campaign will target out-of-state markets in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, South Bend and Toledo.

Travel Michigan urges travelers to follow COVID-19 safety protocols and to call or check their destination’s website for any requirements.

Winter travel alone in Michigan generated $3.6 billion in spending by travelers in 2020, according to Travel Michigan, citing data from TravelUSA.

“Michigan is tied with New York for the most ski areas in the country and right now all of our 50 areas are working in high gear to prepare for our season. Travel Michigan’s winter campaign has helped spread the word about the great snow sports in our state, reaching travelers from surrounding states and beyond,” Michigan Snowsports Industries Association President and Executive Director Mickey MacWilliams said in a recent announcement on the winter travel campaign. “Having the Pure Michigan campaign kick in now, just as the ski season begins, is a real boost for our industry.”

As MiBiz reported in October, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislators agreed in a budget deal for the state’s 2022 fiscal year to appropriate $30 million for the Pure Michigan promotion. The funding restoration came after nearly two years when the promotion went silent and as Michigan’s tourism industry recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic and COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spike statewide.

A recent analysis shows that Michigan’s tourism industry in 2020 declined sharply as the COVID-19 raged across the state and the U.S.

Spending by travelers in 2020 declined by 28.4 percent, or $7.5 billion, to $18.8 billion, according to the analysis that Philadelphia-based Tourism Economics Inc. conducted for Travel Michigan. The one-year decline in travel spending also was more than double the $3.2 billion in growth from 2015 to 2019.

Visits to the state last year decreased by 15.7 percent to 105.9 million, erasing 10 years of gains.

“The 2020 visitor and visitor spending results have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Both the limitations and restrictions to mobility, as well as economic disruptions, hit travel hard,” the Tourism Economics analysis states. “Visitation levels in 2020 were similar to those seen in 2011 (and) the pandemic cut nearly a decade’s worth of visitation growth from Michigan visitor numbers.”

Lodging took the biggest financial hit in 2020, falling nearly 35 percent to $3.97 billion, according to Tourism Economics. 

As well, tourism-related employment declined more than 26 percent to 170,331, or by more than 60,400 jobs.