|DETROIT, May 13, 1999 - Metropolitan Detroit played
host to 16.2 million visitors in 1998, up slightly from 1997, the Metropolitan
Detroit Convention Visitors Bureau (MDCVB) announced today (Thursday, May
13) at its "Destination 2000," a forum highlighting how casinos and the
region's many other new developments will impact area businesses.
Visitor volume rose 1.25 percent over 1997 when 16 million visitors came to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, according to preliminary numbers contained in the 1998 Tourism Market Profile Study, conducted for the Bureau by CIC Research. The steady increase in tourist numbers correlates directly to the healthy economy and low unemployment, said Larry Alexander, acting president and CEO of the MDCVB.
"Additionally, the region is continuing to add new visitor attractions such as Great Lakes Crossing, and enhancing the quality of local events such as the North American International Auto Show and the Woodward Dream Cruise," he said. "These improvements to our tourism portfolio are certainly drawing new visitors and we can expect the numbers to continue to rise as more tourism products come on line in the next few years."
While visitor volume rose in 1998, visitor spending decreased slightly from the previous year. Visitors spent $4 billion in the local economy in 1998 compared to $4.1 billion in 1997, a two percent decrease. Spending last year still remained significantly higher than it did throughout most of the decade. Alexander said the slight slide in spending is not surprising given a number of factors.
"The number of visitors from states throughout the Midwest, including Michigan, increased in 1998 over 1997 while international visitors -- those who would likely spend more on their trip -- decreased," he said. "That may be in large part because the origin market for the majority of our international visitors is Canada which has continued to experience a serious decline in the value of its dollar compared to U.S. currency. Therefore, its residents have had less motivation to travel to U.S. destinations."
He added that the average number of nights stayed by overnight visitors in metro Detroit declined in 1998, consistent with the national trend, which also accounts for the decrease in spending. Another factor that may have played a role is the August 1998 Northwest Airlines strike -- responsible for the loss of both visitors and visitor spending during its duration.
Overall, visitor counts have cumulatively climbed 42 percent and visitor spending has increased 24 percent since 1992 when the first tourism market profile of the region was conducted for the MDCVB.
The majority of the $4 billion spent in metro Detroit by visitors was spent on the area's two most popular visitor activities -shopping ($1.2 billion) followed by dining ($1.1 billion). Approximately $720 million was spent on lodging, $392 million on ground transportation and $302 million on entertainment and recreation.
Following shopping and dining, the top five most visited attractions by tourists were the Renaissance Center, Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village, Greektown, conventions/events held at Cobo Conference Exhibition Center and the Somerset Collection.
The percentage of visitors coming to metro Detroit for vacation or to visit friends and relatives rose in 1998 -- at 79 percent compared to 74 percent in 1997. Visitors to metro Detroit on business trips or attending meetings and conventions dipped to 17 percent in 1998, from 21 percent the previous year.
Of the region's 16.2 million total visitors, 10.2 million were overnight visitors and 6 million were day visitors. The majority of the overnight visitors -- 7.2 million -- stayed in private homes while three million stayed in hotels and motels.
The largest market for overnight visitors was Michigan residents from outside the tri-county area. Michigan residents accounted for nearly 1.3 million -- or 12.5 percent -- of the 10.2 million overnight visitors. Midwestern states, including Michigan, generated the majority of visitors in 1998 at 39 percent, compared to 32 percent in 1997. International visitors represented 13 percent of the total overnight visitor count, down from 16 percent in 1997.
Tourism spending directly generated 69,000 jobs in the tri-county area
|Also See:||MGM Grand Detroit Casino Seeking 2,000 New Employees for Temporary Casino Opening in Late Summer / March 1999|
|Metro Detroit Tourism Grew 6 Percent in 1997, Says Metropolitan Detroit Convention Visitors Bureau / April 1998|