Detroit News: Michigan's tourism industry experienced a 13.7 percent increase in spending last year — fueled by out-of-state travelers — after sustaining three consecutive years of decline, according to a study released Wednesday.
Total travel spending jumped statewide to $17.1 billion compared with 2009's $15.1 billion, which was the lowest spending in nearly a decade, according to a national travel survey by McLean, Va.-based D.K. Shifflet & Associates. Last year's numbers represented the highest level of tourism spending since 2007.
But Michigan's improvement in 2010 remained far below 2006's $18.7 billion peak. Spending by non-residents soared last year to nearly $9.3 billion, the highest level in the 10 years of data — going back to 2001 — that the study released.
By contrast, the $7.9 billion in spending by Michigan residents declined 0.1 percent in 2010, even compared with 2009's disappointing total. That made resident tourism spending the lowest since 2001's $6.7 billion, according to the survey.
"Michigan is becoming a national destination for visitors from across the nation, making tourism increasingly important as new visitors help our economy grow," Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. "We expanded our Pure Michigan branding efforts early in my administration because they successfully tell the important story of Michigan, attracting visitors and investments to our state."
The surge translated to more jobs — a 7.2 percent increase to 153,000 last year but still well off 2006's peak of 200,000 jobs.
Counties that depend heavily on tourism — such as lakeshore-endowed counties like Leelanau and Grand Traverse — experienced some of Michigan's highest population gains in the 2010 U.S. Census, demographer Kurt Metzger of Data Driven Detroit reported last week.
A Michigan State University study projects the state's tourism spending is poised to increase 4 percent this year, creating a second straight year of growth.