We just returned from a two week work/biking trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The county is a tourist attraction with enormous economic activity related to this. New restaurants, building onto hotels, buses with retirees from NYC and Philly rolling through the countryside pestering Anabaptists, much to their irritation. The aggravation and frenzy of successful tourism made me look into the highly touted Pure Michigan thing.
Pure Michigan began as a national advertising campaign in 2006 sponsored by the state of Michigan’s MEDC. The latest figure available to me shows costs us taxpayers 30 million per year. Supporters use the figure of 1.2 billion dollars spent in our state by visitors, claiming the expenditure as a handsome return on “investment” when peddling Pure Michigan.
We can get a handle on Pure Michigan’s impact by inspecting the BLS statistics. I tallied the total number of jobs and the number of jobs in the Leisure & Hospitality categories in 6 states in the Great Lakes area.
Total jobs in the states fell in four of those states, rising only modestly in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Jobs in tourism related businesses like restaurants, recreation, and hotels rose in all 6 states but to different degrees.
Jobs in Hospitality (000) Jan 2005 May 2015 Gain over 10 years
Mi. 405 421 16
Ill. 505 565 60
In. 274 301 27
Oh 498 547 49
Wi. 252 272 20
Pa. 480 551 71
It seems that the 5 states that didn’t advertise their tourist attractions had a much greater increase (relative and absolute) in the number of jobs than did Michigan. “Pure Michigan” probably repelled visitors rather than attracted them.
Our state legislators nevertheless remain undeterred by failure.