State government spending on tourism — including Michigan’s popular “Pure Michigan” campaign — do not, on average, boost gross state product or income in a meaningful way in any of the three sectors examined in this analysis: hotel and accommodations, amusement and recreation and arts and entertainment. While the model did show that state tourism promotion produced a statistically significant gross positive result in two industries, the benefits were tiny and outweighed by the costs to the state economy as a whole.
One positive finding was that for every $1 million increase in state tourism promotion spending in the average state there was a corresponding $20,000 increase in revenue for the accommodations industry. The accommodations industry includes businesses that provide overnight stays such as hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast lodging on a short-term basis.[*] The model found no improvement in the incomes of accommodations employees.
To put this result into perspective, consider that the Pure Michigan advertising campaign received an increase of $4 million from 2015 to 2016. Based on the model’s results of the average effect of state-funded tourism promotion from the 48 contiguous states, that $4 million would translate into an additional $80,000 in new income for all businesses in Michigan’s accommodations industry. Another way of thinking about this statistically significant result is that it is a negative 98 percent “return on investment.” In other words, for each dollar states “invest” in tourism promotion, they lose 98 cents and are left with only 2 cents of value.
These statistical findings are based on a national average. The Michigan-specific results were not statistically different from these. Some states, however, did stick out from the crowd. In separate estimates for one of the two statistically meaningful variables (accommodations income) only Mississippi, Idaho, Washington, Maryland and Nevada showed that they were both statistically significant and different from the average results. This means that all other states experienced a similar state tourism spending effect to the national average or this factor had no measurable impact in these states.
Only these five states had statistically larger and more meaningful impacts than the other states in our model. In these states, the impact of a $1 million state tourism spending produced as much as a $300,000 increase in hotel and accommodations GSP, but this is still far below a level of efficacy.
Other findings from this analysis include:
- The model showed no effect on income or GSP in the amusement and recreation sector.
- The model did find a positive impact on arts and entertainment incomes but it was inconsequential. For every $1 million increase in state tourism promotion spending an additional $35,000 accrued to workers in these industries. We were unable to measure the value of state tourism promotion on GSP in the arts and entertainment sector due to limitations in government data.[†]
[*]Specifically, the “elasticity” of state tourism spending to hotel and accommodation gross state product (the value of accommodation
product) was a puny 0.2. Elasticity is a method for measuring the sensitivity to one item relative to a change in another. In other words, an
elasticity of 0.2 means that a $1,000,000 increase in state tourism spending in the average state would result in just $20,000 more in
spending on the accommodations industry. “Regional Economic Accounts” (Bureau of Economic Analysis), https://perma.cc/3UWC-MTR4.
[†]We were unable to examine state tourism promotion spending on arts and entertainment GSP due to changes in federal data collection methods. The United States government switched its coding of National Income Accounts from Standard Industrial Classification to the
North American Industrial Classification System. When the change was made the category for arts was compiled from several sectors,
making consistent measurements difficult. National Income Accounts is simply the accounting mechanism through which the federal government records economic activities. The SIC system was born in the 1930s and coded industries by a four digit number — from metal mining to financial services. The NAICS codes
replaced and updated SIC codes and were implemented in 1997 in the United States.