Deadline Now: Tourism Industry in Ohio and Michigan
Friday, July 29, 2011
Summer means memorable vacations and daytrips in both the Buckeye and Wolverine states. How important is travel and tourism to the economies of both states? What's new for travelers this year? Amir Eylon, State Tourism Director for Ohio, and George Zimmermann, Director of Travel Michigan, bring host Jack Lessenberry up to date.
Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:
Thirty years ago, few people in Ohio took tourism very seriously as an important part of the economic mix, and for that matter, not many people in Michigan did either. Michigan always had a head start as a tourism destination, thanks to the fact that both peninsulas are surrounded by water and northern Michigan has long been a place rich people went to stay cool in the summertime.
Ohio had rich and varied regions, including an almost southern feel in Cincinnati and double the number of major league baseball and football teams. But nobody in 1970, say, saw tourism as a major economic engine, though there were some profits to be made from folks hunting deer in the fall. Real money came from manufacturing, back then. Cars in Michigan; car parts and components and steel and Jeeps in Ohio.
Well, what a difference a few years make.
Today, good paying manufacturing jobs are few and far between -- especially in the auto industry. In Michigan, more than ninety percent of all the General Motors blue collar jobs that existed back in 1979 are gone now, and they are never coming back.
Ohio’s economy is more diverse, but there are plainly parts of Youngstown and Cleveland, even Toledo, which have been ravaged by the automotive recession. Both states have governments and people who need more money flowing in, need it almost desperately.
So our states have begun to aggressively market tourism as a source of revenue, and it seems to be paying off. Tourism has become a multi-billion dollar business for both Ohio and Michigan.
Both states have more to do, however, to market themselves to a national audience. Ohio has to get the word out that there is more to the state than sports teams, Cedar Point, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Michigan has to overcome the national image of a state whose major city is a corrupt landscape of ruins inhabited by killers.
The good news is that our guests tonight have done a lot already to raise the image of both our states in the nation’s eyes.