The 2012-2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan is ready for implementation.

This plan, developed by and for the industry, has laid the foundation for tourism growth and prosperity over the next five years.

The fundamental purpose of a strategic plan is to provide for the long term success of an organization. Strategic planning involves the setting of a long-term vision; the formation of focused goals; the identification of objectives that are specific enough to enable measurement of progress toward the goals; and, the selection and implementation of actionable strategies that will move the entity towards its ideal vision state.

While many companies and organizations engage in strategic planning, it is less usual for an entire industry to participate. In fact, though most state tourism agencies possess some form of a marketing plan, Michigan is one of only a handful of states that have developed a comprehensive strategic plan for their entire tourism industry. The planning process lasted a year, and involved hundreds of industry members, from all sectors of the industry and all regions of the state. Activities included online surveys and votes as well as an in-person goal setting session attended by one hundred individuals and twelve industry stakeholder sessions during which ideas regarding objectives and strategies were solicited.

The vision that the industry has chosen to adopt is as follows: Michigan is one of America’s favorite four seasons travel experiences.

Once the industry’s vision for itself had been established, goals were set around eight recurring critical themes:

  • Collaboration, Cooperation and Partnerships
  • Funding
  • Product Development
  • Promotion, Marketing and Communications
  • Public Policy and Government Support
  • Research and Technical Assistance
  • Resources and Environment
  • Service Excellence

These themes formed the basis for the development of eight goals, each supported by a series of objectives and suggested strategies.

The next step in the strategic planning process is implementation. As noted in Strategic Planning to Strategic Management by Ansoff, Declerck and Hayes, “The outcome of strategic planning is only a set of plans and intentions. By itself, strategic planning produces no actions, no visible changes in the firm. To create changes, the firm needs appropriate capabilities …” Much like the plan, the implementation process is being designed to be as inclusive and participatory as possible. Progress will be evaluated on an annual basis and will be reported at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism each spring.

Copies of the final plan, including the full listing of goals, objectives and suggested strategies, as well as all other documentation pertaining to the planning process may be found at For more information about the 2012-2017 MTSP, please contact MSU faculty member Dr. Sarah Nicholls at Michigan State University Extension also publishes articles and information about events pertaining to Michigan tourism.

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