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Loss of funding for Pure Michigan 'devastating,' tourism officials say

The "Pure Michigan" campaign highlights beautiful and memorable places and experiences in Michigan.
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Funding for the Pure Michigan campaign has been eliminated in a new state budget approved by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature.

In her initial budget proposal, Governor Whitmer cut $5 million from the Pure Michigan campaign’s $36 million budget. The Legislature’s response added $1 million back onto the program. The newest version of the budget has no money for Pure Michigan.

This is a cause for concern for many in the tourism industry. Many say the award winning campaign, which kicked off in 2006, is responsible for an uptick in tourists - both domestic and international - traveling to Michigan.

Dan Sippel is the executive director of the West Michigan Tourist Association. He says the ad campaign is a wonderful representation of the state’s beauty.

“It [will] be devastating. We've seen a huge growth in out-of-Michigan travelers over the last...time of this campaign has been going on, and to see that wane would be very bad for the industry.”

Sippel says the effects of good advertising won't disappear overnight, but a lot of good work promoting the state to domestic and international travelers will be undone.

He says even if funding were to be restored at a later date, top-of-mind is important in advertising and it would be very difficult for the campaign to fully recover.

Travel Michigan, which oversees the Pure Michigan Campaign, is a part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Otie McKinley, spokesman for the MEDC, says Pure Michigan helped generate $2.5 billion in tourism revenue. 

“Our goal is to continue to promote the state as a place for visitors to come again and again, and without Pure Michigan funding, there will be a real impact on our ability to attract visitors to the state.”

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