The critically acclaimed “Pure Michigan” ads will return to the airwaves this summer, albeit in a much reduced form. This year’s allocation is just 14.9 million, less than half of the previous year’s spending. A House plan to add money through a $2.50 rental car levy failed to pass the State Senate. The reduced spending likely means the ads won’t be run on a national basis, as they were last year.
As mentioned here previously on GolfBlogger, various studies have shown that for every $1 spent on tourism advertising, $5 was returned to the state. That’s a sound investment.
What really needs to be done is to find a way to provide a permanent revenue source for this campaign. I’m no fan of taxes, but I think the solution is to tap into those things tourists use, such as the aforementioned rental cars and hotel rooms. Thirty million is really not a large sum of money, and it wouldn’t take much of a tax to get to that amount. There are some 40,000 hotel rooms in Southeast Michigan alone. Assuming an average occupancy of 50%, that’s 20,000 rooms a night. A tax of $2 a night would generate some $14 million annually in southeastern Michigan alone. Throw in half again that number in west side, and “Up North” rooms, and you have an annual revenue of at least $20 million. The Tourism and Lodging Industry group is lobbying for permanent funding, so barring typical political hypocrisy, they should support this. The state might also consider a small surcharge on restaurant food—say a quarter percent. I’d support this, though, only if the money were lockboxed. Otherwise, you can be sure the legislature would just appropriate the money for whatever they deem politically rewarding at the time.