WMU News

Effect of economic downturn on Michigan tourism

May 2, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Layoffs and high gas prices have sparked concern about Michigan's tourism industry. But there's a plus to the recent economic slump: People will be prompted to take vacations closer to home, which could be good for Michigan tourism, says Dr. Eldor C. Quandt, a WMU professor of geography and director of the University's tourism program.

"I do think we could benefit internally," Quandt says. "In other words, domestic travel could increase as a result of a downturn because what happens normally is that long trips are either postponed or cut back in some way. Dream vacations, trips to Europe and so on might be curtailed and what happens then is that is channeled into domestic travel and that's where the state of Michigan could benefit. You keep your people here in the state. So there can be a positive effect."

Quandt says the state could very well see another 4 percent increase in tourism spending this year, which has become the average in recent years. Quandt adds that another thing Michigan has going for it is its many fine golf courses.

"One thing that has been marketed a great deal in Michigan for about the past five, six or seven years are the excellent golf courses that we have, in particular up in the upper part of the Lower Peninsula," Quandt says. "This has caught on nationally, and I think, too, that something like this could benefit, even more as a result of a slight downturn in the economy."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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