More tourism dollars are coming into Genesee County.
As the perception of the region improved and corporate travel increased, tourism has grown every year since 2012, according to the Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau. Through the first quarter of 2018, hotel occupancy was up 10.9 percent and revenue was up 6.8 percent.
Travel Michigan calculates $454 million in overall tourism spending in Genesee County in 2016. That number includes direct spending and related costs, such as airport, food, gasoline, etc.
In other good news for the area, more jobs are now available thanks to more tourism. Hospitality jobs, including accommodations and food service account for nearly 10 percent of all jobs in Genesee County. If arts, entertainment, and recreation are included in this figure, the number nears 11 percent of jobs, which puts the county on par with the national trend where 1 in 9 jobs nationally is accounted for by hospitality and tourism. (These figures exclude things like retail jobs, 14.49 percent, and transportation, 2.35 percent jobs, which are impacted heavily by new developments and improvements in hospitality.)
That uptick in tourism made Flint the perfect place to host Michigan tourism officials and members of the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan
who met at the Capitol Theatre on May 10 to demonstrate the economic impact of travel to Michigan.
The event was part of the 35th annual National Travel and Tourism Week (May 6-12), which unites communities across the country to celebrate what travel means to American jobs, economic growth and personal well-being. It was hosted by the Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Tourism plays a bigger role in the lives of Michigan residents than most people would realize. Not only does it produce more than 300,000 jobs, it also connects us with the world,” says Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “The more people who visit Michigan for leisure the more they get to see us as we really are – a state which features incredible natural spaces, authentic destinations and unique experiences. This breaks through outdated stereotypes and showcases Michigan as the perfect place to do business, for education and to live.”
In Genesee County, some of the increase in tourism comes from three big events:
- HAP Crim Festival of Races – a 10-mile road race that brings 55,000 visitors. This year it’s August 24-25.
- Back to the Bricks – a weeklong celebration of the area’s distinctive place in the history of the automotive industry that brings in 500,000 visitors, according to the B2B committee (see top picture). It’s August 14-18 this year.
- The Ally Challenge – a 54-hole stroke play golf tournament at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club featuring PGA TOUR Champions competing for a $2 million purse; it bring in 50,000 visitors and has more than $30 million in economic impact. It will be held September 10-16.
Genesee County is also home to the largest county park system in the state of Michigan, which includes a 383-acre nature preserve and arboretum with seven miles of all-season hiking trails.
There’s also the Flint Institute of Arts, the Sloan Museum, Longway Planetarium Flint Symphony Orchestra, Flint Farmer’s Market and the Capitol Theatre.
According to a study by Tourism Economics, visitor spending in Michigan grew by 3 percent in 2016 to reach $23.7 billion. That spending generated $40.7 billion in total business sales as visitor dollars flowed through the state’s economy. A total of 337,900 jobs, with income of $11.6 billion, were sustained by the traveler economy in Michigan in 2016.
“Flint & Genesee is thrilled to be the host location for the Nation and Travel and Tourism week event. Not only does this allow us to showcase a wonderful new product in the Capitol Theatre, but it also allows us to show the industry’s key partners and advocates that the Flint and Genesee area is a unique and thriving destination,” says Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Brandon Morgan. “From the world-renowned HAP Crim Festival of Races to the gorgeous campus of the Flint Cultural Center to our wonderful county park system, Flint & Genesee is vibrant, brilliant and playful.”