In 1997, after Brian Lawson graduated from Butler University, he moved to Traverse City to begin a career in broadcast television. After covering golf and skiing at Crystal Mountain, the culture inspired him to begin working in Michigan’s tourism industry.
Now, as director of public relations at Crystal Mountain, Lawson enjoys working in a business that offers experiences and opportunities for families and friends to make connections and long-lasting memories.
“It’s a very powerful and positive environment in which to work,” says Lawson. “There’s nothing quite like going to work where vacation is the product and that energy is what I like most about this job.”
Brian is among the more than 200,000 Michiganders that work in Michigan’s tourism industry, showing millions of visitors each year what Pure Michigan is truly all about.
In addition to offering beautiful vacation destinations, tourism in Michigan has a significant impact on the state’s economy, creating job opportunities as the number of visitors and the money they spend continues to grow.
According to a report by Tourism Economics, visitor spending in Michigan reached $22.8 billion in 2014 and generated $37.8 billion in total business sales for the state’s economy. Visitors also spent 3.8 percent more in 2014 than they did the previous year, the report found.
Traveler spending, in fact, has increased by an average of 3.7 percent every year for the last four years, according to the report.
As a result of the 113.4 million visitors to Michigan in 2014, every sector of the state’s economy tied to tourism grew with a total of 214,333 jobs being directly sustained. Including the direct, indirect and induced impacts of the tourism economy, employment supported by the state’s tourism industry accounts for 6.2 percent of all employment in Michigan.
“Jobs in Michigan’s tourism industry are as varied as they are ample,” said Lawson. “It’s a labor intensive industry. Crystal Mountain, for instance, is like a municipality. We need people to clear the roads in the winter, staff and serve 300 people at a banquet, teach people how to ski and all jobs in between.”
The report determined that without a strong tourism industry in Michigan, the state’s unemployment rate for 2014 could have gone from 7.3 percent to as high as 13.3 percent.
Tourism employment growth outpaced the overall state employment growth by more than half a percent in 2014 and has continued to outperform the state economy for the last four straight years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Playing a major factor in this success has been the nationally recognized tourism campaign Pure Michigan. A study by Longwoods International has determined that the $12.4 million spent in out-of-state advertising during 2014 generated 2.2 million trips to Michigan by people living in the Midwest region and Canada and another 1.9 million trips by people residing in the other U.S. regions.
“State funding for tourism promotion has had a huge impact on Michigan’s lodging and tourism industries,” said Steve Yencich, president and CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association. “Industry employment levels dropped to recessionary levels of just over 142,000 back in 2009. In 2014, those levels grew to more than 214,000 industry-wide. That’s real growth – that’s Pure Michigan!”
As the tourism industry in Michigan continues to grow, Michiganders and visitors alike see the impact of a vibrant and diverse industry based around the state’s natural beauty and endless opportunities to explore new landscapes.
“As more guests continue to visit Michigan, jobs will continue to grow,” said Lawson. “Provided you enjoy working with people and in the service industry, there’s a place for you in the tourism industry, whatever your skillset.”