Pure Michigan campaign aides recovery of state’s tourism

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Artist Will Schlough’s sculpture is one of 16 featured on Art Trail Tecumseh. Photo by Jim Lincoln.

This is the final installment in a series of articles pointing to a rebounding Michigan economy and its effect on Tecumseh and surrounding communities.

Pure Michigan just launched its summer regional campaign and Tecumseh is one of 34 private sector partners that are a part of it. Pure Michigan began a national ad campaign in March, continuing a success story for the state that has boosted the state’s tourism industry. Tourism officials report that an estimated 3.8 million out-of-state visitors spent a record $1.1 billion at Michigan businesses last year, much of it attributable to the Pure Michigan campaign.

About a year ago, Tecumseh officials connected with representatives of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and its Travel Michigan component and began the process of producing a radio ad featuring the city. The spots are narrated by actor Tim Allen, who starred in ABC-TV’s Home Improvement sitcom and the current show, Last Man Standing.

The radio segments began airing May 6 in local markets throughout the Great Lakes region.

“The continued growth of the partnership program is allowing us to expand our presence in key markets and grow into new markets within the Great Lakes region and beyond,” said George Zimmerman, Vice President of Travel Michigan, in a press release.

“Through this campaign we are telling the story of Michigan as the perfect summer travel destination as well as highlighting many of the unique and memorable destinations our state has to offer.”

As the economy has improved and gas prices have somewhat stabilized, many in the state look forward to a good tourism year, boosted by involvement with the Pure Michigan campaign, attracting both in- and out-of-state visitors.

“We’ve always done well in the northwest Ohio market and people definitely like to come up to Tecumseh from Toledo, and from the Downriver area of Michigan, too,” said Paula Holtz, Tecumseh’s Economic Development Department Director. “But this is the first time in a couple of years that we’re focusing our efforts, primarily through participation in the Pure Michigan campaign, to attract people from an even broader area, some who may even want to spend the night.”

Holtz said target areas outside the state would include target markets such as Columbus, Ohio and Fort Wayne, Indiana. There is also some emphasis in areas such as Lansing and Flint and other major regions in Michigan that would not typically be part of the city’s marketing emphasis.

“That’s a much broader reach than what we have typically worked on in the past,” said Holtz. The city also has an ad in the current Pure Michigan Travel Guide and has responded to several inquiries already as a result of that. “It seems like more and more we’re becoming a tourist destination,” Holtz added. “We have a lot to offer. There are people looking for an outdoor experience such as canoeing or kayaking or hiking, and we have that downtown shopping niche with our unique shops. We attract people to the arts with the Tecumseh Center for the Arts, and especially our Art Trail. Certainly our recent Friday night Art Walk had a good showing.”

Grey Fox Floral owner Jan Fox said her business hosted three artists, including Evelyn Perry, whose work is featured in the Michigan-made Michigan Ware display at the store, and the event was very well attended, even though they are off the Boulevard.

“It’s through events like this that more people are learning about what Tecumseh has to offer,” she said. “Diva night this year was also awesome for us. We had more than 350 visitors come through the store in four hours.”

It seems that Tecumseh’s reputation continues to spread through word of mouth as well. Jan and her husband, Gary, had out of town guests one weekend, and their friends noticed the new sculptures on the art trail and commented on how there were no empty storefronts in the city’s downtown, seeing that as unusual in these tough times.

“One guest said, ‘You’re always doing something up here,’ and it was neat to hear that from an outsider without being solicited who paid attention to all that,” Fox said. She said when a Toledo columnist did a story on Tecumseh not long ago, visitors mentioned where they’d learned of the city. “There’s still power in the pen — it’s not all Internet,” Fox said. She added that when people visit a specific spot, such as the new Spotted Cow location, they want to explore.

“They may come for ice cream, but they want to know what else there is to see,” she said. “Most businesses keep literature about the area in their stores, and we all ask people where they’re from.”

Tecumseh’s radio spot talks of the area’s natural beauty, hiking trails and small town community. It will be aired throughout the summer season. The catchy Pure Michigan campaign could bring some new visitors into Michigan this year, boosting tourism and the state’s economy — and maybe some of them will travel to or through Tecumseh.




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