In 2018, visitation to Michigan reached nearly 125 million, spending $25.7 billion in the state. As a result, this activity generated $2.8 billion in state and local taxes. As such, tourism is one of Michigan’s largest industries and is vital to the sustainability of communities across the Great Lakes state.
However, not all communities are able to tap into Michigan's tourism economy effectively even though visitors arrive and depart every day for all kinds of reasons. For starters, some communities may not realize their assets could be leveraged differently to attract visitors. Other communities may simply have forgot just what makes their community unique. And those communities already with strong tourism economies, what can they do differently and more creatively to sustain their industry?
Have you ever considered capturing first-time visitor perspectives of your community might be the first-step needed to spawn new developments? Have you thought about how first-time visitors may view your community in a new manner of which to benefit from? Are you interested in expanding and enhancing assets to strengthen your small town economy? With First Impressions, now you can.
First Impressions (FIT) is a comprehensive community assessment conducted by unannounced visitors in a host community positioned to lead development based on the program results. FIT involves developing community leadership, assessing the host community, sharing the results in a community forum open to all, and providing suggestions to drive community action. Overall, FIT helps communities learn about their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of first-time visitors.
The results of FIT can:
Spawn local leadership.
Strengthen community vitality.
Form the basis for future development.
For questions about the FIT program, please contact MSU Extension tourism leader Andy Northrop, 810-989-6331.