Tourism Taking a Hit

By: John Tramontana
By: John Tramontana

Michigan's struggling economy and high summer gas prices could lead to a big hit for Michigan's tourism.

"Unfortunately the area of the country that has the weakest economy is our prime market," said Dr. Don Holecek, MSU's Tourism Center Director.

Holecek says colder temperatures this fall could lead the Numbers to drop as much as 10 percent from this time last year. With Michigan's economy in turmoil, the state may need every penny it can get.

"I don't see it getting much of a boost in the near future," Holecek said. "November and December are pretty slow months in any case and it's not going to salvage the year for us. I expect we'll end the year down three percent."

Holecek says the problem is that 70 percent of Michigan's tourists are Michigan residents. Many cannot afford the luxury of a weekend getaway and that's hurting the market.

Some local attractions saw the slump coming and did all they could to offset the dip.

"We knew it was going to be a possibility so we really focused on publicity," said Sandra Dunnebacke of the Impression 5 museum in Lansing.

Impression 5 is one of the area's largest museums. Employees said they increased advertising across the state.

"We had the best summer we had in several years."

But tourism is expected to get worse before it improves. Experts from across the state will meet in March to determine how to get the industry back on track.


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