WJR Business Beat

WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Travel Sector Rebounding in State of Michigan (Episode 255)

On today’s Business Beat, Jeff discusses the expected resurgence in the travel sector in Michigan post-pandemic economy. Revenues from travel in the state are expected to increase 19% this year to over $2 billion, according to a forecast from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Tune in to the Business Beat, below, to learn more about how the travel sector is bouncing back in Michigan:

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Good morning, Paul!

You know what’s big business in Michigan? Tourism. The travel sector in Michigan is critical to our state’s economy, so much so that it accounts for 6% of all jobs in the state of Michigan and supports one out of every 16 workers in the state as well.

Travel generated over $20 billion in state GDP in 2019. That’s about 4% of the Michigan economy, according to a report by Tourism Economics. Now, we all know what a hit the travel industry took as a result of the pandemic. And when travel spending is down in our state, it has broad-reaching economic impact, including on jobs, taxes and, certainly, on the local small businesses that serve travelers while in our state.

So, the big question is: is traveling returning to pre-pandemic levels? Well, overall, 87% of Americans say they’re ready to vacation again, according to market research firm Longwoods International. And according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, revenues from travel in the state of Michigan are expected to increase 19% this year to over $2 billion.

Now while that’s good, that’s still down 28% from 2019 numbers. And likewise, occupancy is forecast to climb nearly 50% this year but, again, still below the 60% in 2019. Now, nationally, about half of all U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty, according to The Trade Group. The biggest reason we still lag behind the 2019 numbers? While families have tremendous pent-up demand and seem to be traveling recreationally in abundance this summer to the point where every available vacancy this summer in Michigan seems to be filled right away, business travel is still down significantly.

However, there’s hope on the horizon as the Convention & Travelers Bureau is reporting that many venues are starting to see more and more bookings for 2022. So, the hope is that personal recreational travel carries the day throughout the rest of 2021 until we get into 2022, when business travel is expected to follow suit and return with a vengeance. Let’s hope for the great state of Michigan, that’s exactly the way it plays out.

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of StartupNation.com, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

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