Category: Travel & Vacations

News From Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmermann

I wanted be sure you were aware about the 2014 Michigan Cares for Tourism clean up event taking place on Belle Isle May 8-9. Tourism industry professionals are volunteering to help restore Michigan’s historic attractions while engaging in a fun-filled, educational, and challenging event. This is a terrific opportunity to help give back so be sure to check out for more information.      

Happy spring and safe travel always,

News From Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmermann


The 2014 Pure Michigan Govenor’s Conference on Tourism opened Sunday in Traverse City with record attendance of more than 1000 people from across Michigan and concluded yesterday afternoon. By all accounts, it was a very successful event, and I want to thank the team at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for hosting the conference with such skill and class – a job very well done. I also want to publicly recognize the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association –Steve Yencich and Kylie Olanowski in particular – for their hard work, talent and leadership in managing this ever-growing and ever-more complex conference that has become the single most important gathering point for the Michigan tourism industry each year.

For those who are unable to attend this year’s conference, here are some of the highlights of our announcements at the conference:

The results are in for our 2013 summer out-of-state advertising. According to new research by Longwoods International, the Pure Michigan summer advertising attracted 4 million visitors to Michigan last summer, 2.4 million from the Great Lakes region and 1.6 million from more distant markets around the country. These four million visitors spent $1.2 billion at Michigan businesses last year, and they spent $87 million in Michigan taxes on their Michigan trips. We spent $13 million on the 2013 summer advertising which attracted these visitors. That means the state got $6.66 back in tax revenue for each advertising dollar we spent. All of these metrics – number of out-of-state visitors motivated, spending and taxes generated by their trips and our advertising return on investment – set new records. Since its launch in 2006, the Pure Michigan campaign has attracted 18.3 million out-of-state visitors to Michigan who spent $5.3 billion on their Michigan trips and paid $374 million in Michigan taxes.

For 2014, we announced that our $13 million national advertising campaign will launch next Monday, March 17. The buy includes $11 million on national cable TV networks, and for the first time, $2 million on national network TV – NBC, CBS, ABC – including the “Today Show” and “Good Morning America.” And our biggest Canadian media buy ever, at $2.5 million and including Toronto for the first time, launches April 7 across Ontario and all of Canada. We also announced that we now have representation in both the U.K. and Germany to boost our efforts in those markets, and that we will soon announce representation in China, the country sending the largest number of international travelers on trips worldwide with an estimated 100 million Chinese international travelers in 2014.

Attending my last Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism as the MEDC Vice President for Travel Michigan before my departure in late April, I also recognized two teams who are responsible for so much of what has been accomplished by Pure Michigan since its launch. They are the talented, creative staff at Travel Michigan, and the best agency team I have ever had the pleasure to work with at McCann Detroit, which created Pure Michigan.

It was a pleasure being with so many of you at this year’s conference.

Safe travels always,

For more information, contact George Zimmermann at (517) 335-1862.

News From Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmermann

The 2014 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism is less than a month away, so register today. You won’t want to miss the outstanding line up of keynote speakers, including Governor Snyder and Chris Thompson, the president and CEO of Brand USA. The 1,000 attendees expected will come away with comprehensive 2013 data and results for both the Pure Michigan campaign and the broader Michigan tourism industry, as well as plans and projections for 2014 and beyond.

The 2012 -2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan will be front and center at the conference, with members of the Michigan Travel Commission and the plan’s Industry Advisory Council presenting the progress to date and the agenda for 2014. Breakout sessions will provide actionable information on everything from marketing to overseas visitors and maximizing Google Analytics, to city-wide hospitality training and promoting Michigan trails and other outdoor assets.

Just as important as a strong program, the networking opportunities at the conference are extraordinary. This is the Michigan tourism industry’s most important annual event, and participants always rate the networking with industry leaders, peers and colleagues as a top benefit of attending.

The conference is March 9-11 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Traverse City.  For complete details and to register now, click here.

Register now for the 2014 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Travel and tourism is the world’s largest industry. Here in Michigan‚ visitors spent more than $18 billion traveling in our state in 2012. Is your city‚ county‚ town‚ or region maximizing this opportunity? There is one conference in Michigan that is the key to growing your tourism economy.

Join 1‚000 travel industry and economic development partners‚ state and local government officials and community leaders from throughout Michigan March 9-11 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Traverse City for the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism 2014.

The theme this year is culinary tourism. And what better destination to highlight this travel trend than Traverse City with its growing reputation as a top U.S. foodie town. Other highlights include a keynote presentation on “Creating the World’s Best Destinations” by award-winning international travel journalist and travel expert Doug Lansky; the latest news on international marketing from Chris Thompson‚ the President and CEO of Brand USA‚ the official international tourism marketing organization for the United States; and a detailed review of 2013 outcomes along with an in-depth overview of Pure Michigan’s plans for 2014 from George Zimmermann‚ Vice President of Travel Michigan.

Tap into emerging trends and discover cutting edge strategies for responding to an evolving Michigan tourism landscape with breakout session topics which include everything from understanding and applying web analytics to maximizing the impact of Michigan’s vast and wonderful system of trails.

This year’s conference will feature five finalists who will compete for your vote for the 2014 Jump Start Grand Prize. Entries are accepted until February 1. Presentations‚ evaluations and voting all take place at this year’s conference. Join us at the opening general session to listen as finalists make their Pure Michigan Jump Start sales pitch. The winner will receive $5‚000 to help launch their award-winning idea.

Take advantage of another great opportunity to network with Michigan tourism industry peers‚ marketers‚ community leaders‚ economic developers‚ educators and other professionals actively involved in this vitally important industry.

Registration for the Michigan tourism industry’s most important annual event is now open! Sign up to attend now and receive the early registration discount registration. For complete conference details‚ and to register today‚ click here.

Live the Life of a Victorian-era Light Keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a fresh idea in vacation destinations. The DNR seeks volunteers to spend a week or two between March 1 and Dec. 20 acting as lighthouse keepers for the Tawas Point Lighthouse, located on the grounds of Tawas Point State Park along the shores of Lake Huron in East Tawas.

Adventurous guests are invited to live for a week or two like a Victorian-era lighthouse keeper at beautiful Tawas Point Lighthouse, along the shores Volunteer duties include studying the lighthouse’s rich maritime history, leading guests on lighthouse tours and other miscellaneous duties. In exchange for their work contribution, volunteers are able to stay in the newly renovated keeper’s quarters for a cost of $250 per person, per week. The living quarters include two bedrooms, a modern kitchen and bath.

Serving as a lighthouse keeper allows vacationers to enjoy a unique lodging experience with spectacular views, while supporting and preserving a historical landmark.

“I feel blessed to have many memories of folks I met this week,” former keeper Robert Ulrich wrote in the Lighthouse Keeper Journal. “Wonderful program, wonderful facility and wonderful memories.”

The lighthouse keeper program is open to singles and couples 18 years and older. Chuck Allen, supervisor at Tawas Point State Park, suggests that volunteers should be physically able to lead tours through the lighthouse and tower and perform housekeeping duties such as light maintenance or yard work. Applications and detailed information are available at

Dates and prices are effective through 2014. For details, call 989-362-5041 or 989-362-5658.

Tawas Point Lighthouse is one of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. Located in Tawas Point State Park, off U.S. 23, 2.5 miles southeast of East Tawas, the lighthouse is open for tours from early May to mid-October, every day except Tuesdays.

Pure Michigan has #1 Website for Seventh Year in a Row

LANSING – For the seventh year in a row, was the most visited state tourism website in the country, according to the independent online measurement company Experian Hitwise.

According to Hitwise,’s market share of 6.12 percent of all the web traffic to state tourism websites was the best in the nation, with Virginia, Florida, Arkansas and Hawaii rounding out the top five. Michigan’s official travel and tourism website recorded more than 9 million web visits in 2013 – up from 8.8 million web visits in 2012.

“The website has always been, and continues to be the flagship of the Pure Michigan campaign,” said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “For many visitors, is one of their first introductions to the state. We have worked hard to make it a place with an abundance of information, terrific visuals and most importantly a helpful place to plan a Pure Michigan vacation.”

In addition to the 9 million web visits, consumers used the site an average of nearly 25,000 times per day. Click-through rates from to other Michigan tourism industry sites averaged nearly 13,000 clicks per day and 4.7 million clicks for the year.

In addition to the national and regional advertising campaigns, Pure Michigan’s social media channels also drive traffic to the site. The Pure Michigan Facebook page, with more than 550,000 fans, is one of the top ten drivers of traffic to Pure Michigan’s social media presence has been ranked as the best in the nation among all state destination marketing organizations by Think Social Media in 11 out of the last 17 quarters.

“Our social media efforts provide a terrific platform to reinforce our advertising campaign by directly engaging with fans and guiding them to,” Zimmermann said.

With more than 76,000 followers, Pure Michigan has the number one state tourism Instagram account, and is within the top states for followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook. Pure Michigan was also recently named one of the Top 10 Destinations to Follow on Twitter by

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy.

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit

News From Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmermann

A new year means year-end data starts becoming available, and the first data in is very positive. I am pleased to report that, according to Hitwise, an independent web tracking and research firm, was once again the most popular state tourism web site of the 50 states. We had more than 6 million web visits to in 2013, and 6.12% of all of the web traffic to the 50 state tourism websites came to, with Virginia, Florida, Arkansas and Hawaii rounding out the top five. Web traffic at in 2013 was up 2.3% over 2012. This is the seventh year in a row that has been the most popular state tourism web site.

Michigan’s hotel industry continues to set records, based on the most recent results from Smith Travel Research. Through November, Michigan’s hotel occupancy rate was 58.6%, the average daily rate (ADR) was $87.71, and revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) was $51.42, all at the highest levels since we started getting this data in 2004.

We look forward to another great year for Pure Michigan tourism in 2014. Safe travels always,

For more information, contact George Zimmermann at (517) 335-1862.

Amtrak Adds More Wolverine Service Trains for Holiday Travel to and from Michigan

Special Kalamazoo/Ann Arbor trains offered again this holiday season

CHICAGO – Due to strong demand, Amtrak is adding additional Wolverine Servicetrains between Michigan and Chicago to provide expanded December and January holiday travel options. Passengers should book their tickets now for best availability and pricing.

Amtrak will offer an additional eastbound and an additional westbound Wolverine Service train between Chicago and Ann Arbor on December 22, 26, 27, 29 & 31 and on January 1 & 3. Ordinarily, Amtrak provides three daily round-trips from Chicago through Ann Arbor, with continuing service to and from Detroit-area stations.

The extra Wolverines (Trains 356 & 359) will operate in addition to regular Wolverines (Trains 350-355). Please see the attached schedules, which include the Blue Water(Trains 364 & 365), that share the Wolverine route between Battle Creek and Chicago.

The extra trains were added with the encouragement of the Michigan Department of Transportation and permission of Norfolk Southern and CN railroads.

News From Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmermann

Michigan’s tourism industry continues to prosper, according to the most recent hotel data from Smith Travel Research. Through October, Michigan’s year-to-date hotel occupancy is 59.3%, up 1.1% from the same period last year. The average daily rate (ADR) at Michigan hotels for that same period is $88.06, up 4.5% compared to 2012. And revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) through October is $52.19, up 5.6% from the same period in 2012.

Our tourism industry is heavily dependent on the state’s natural, cultural and heritage resources. The Resources & Environment implementation committee of the 2012-2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan (MTSP) is therefore eager to identify the key issues facing and most significant threats to the integrity of these resources, and to raise awareness of and support for these issues. Please help the committee prioritize its first year activities by completing this very short survey.

I also wanted to remind you of two LinkedIn groups that have recently been established as a result of the MTSP implementation process. The “MI Tourism Collaboration, Cooperation and Partnerships Toolbox” is designed to facilitate the development of new, innovative and non-traditional collaboration, cooperation and partnerships that will increase and improve tourism activity throughout the state. Please use this site to share best practices and resources, to seek and offer assistance with current and proposed projects, and to otherwise benefit the tourism industry. The “Michigan Forum on International Tourism” is dedicated to increasing the Michigan tourism industry’s understanding of the international market, and to improving the industry’s ability to provide superior experiences to the state’s growing number of international guests. It provides a venue for tourism industry members to share news about and seek resources regarding the international promotion and marketing of Michigan, and to discuss how to best provide for the varying needs of our international visitors. Visit the ‘groups’ page on LinkedIn to find and request to join either of these new industry resources.

Safe travels during this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

For more information, contact George Zimmermann at (517) 335-1862.

DNR’s new Central Reservation System – Easier to Reserve A Harbor Slip, Campsite or Lodging at Michigan State Parks

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) new Central Reservation System (CRS) for state parks and harbors is now open for reservations of all types at This more customer-friendly version of the website allows reservations up to one year in advance for lodging and six months in advance for camping and harbors.
Explore the DNR’s new and improved central reservation system and be sure to book your favorite campsites and harbor slips early in the year.

Explore the DNR's new and improved central reservation system and be sure to book your favorite campsites and harbor slips early in the year.

Explore the DNR’s new and improved central reservation system and be sure to book your favorite campsites and harbor slips early in the year.

Campers are encouraged to plan ahead to get the first pick of campsites for some early spring camping, or – if outdoor camping in the spring sounds too cold – reserve a cabin, yurt or other lodging option. Now is also the time to start planning for the Memorial Day holiday weekend; Memorial Day is on May 26, 2014.

The new system features pictures of the campsites and lodging at each location, and more views will continue to be added. Campers can select sites based on camping equipment, stay dates, accessibility and electrical amperage, and view sites on a map, in a list or on a calendar. Campers who know where they want to stay can go straight to that favorite location and select sites from there.

The CRS is also now mobile-friendly, making it easier than ever to make a reservation from a phone or tablet by visiting The mobile site is perfect for reserving a site on the go, booking a last-minute stay, and for those who are familiar with the sites and don’t need a picture.

Even if dates can’t yet be reserved for a future camping trip, campers are encouraged to visit the website, create a customer profile and explore the new system. By getting familiar and setting up a username and password in advance, customers can save time later and have a better chance of getting their first choice of a campsite.