Why Michigan?

It′s America′s Winter Water Wonderland.

Michigan has a unique landscape for tourism with:

  • 3,000 miles of America's longest and best fresh water shorelines
  • 40 ski resorts
  • 80% of the nations fresh water
  • No. 1 in length of fresh water shoreline with 3,000 miles of America′s best lakes and 80% of the nation′s fresh water.
  • No. 1 in registered boats (1 million).
  • No. 1 in dedicated state forest acreage and No. 5 in state recreation land.
  • No. 4 in number of public golf courses.
  • Northern Michigan has some of America′s most popular winter destinations for skiing, hunting, hiking and, most of all, snowmobiling.
 

 
 

  • Every year, more than a half million snowmobilers travel ″Up North″ to enjoy 6,200 miles of groomed public snowmobile trails. In fact, Michigan is the No. 1 state in registered snowmobiles (390,000).
  • Every year, skiers travel ″Up North″ to the 40 ski resorts, including Boyne Mountain, Crystal Mountain, Shanty Creek, Treetops, Garland and The Homestead. In the summer, Michigan thaws out to reveal new shades of blue and green seldom experienced in nature.
  • Michigan leads the world in winter and water fun. There is no other place in the USA or in the world with more lakes, fresh water shorelines, boats, state forest acreage, snowmobiles or snowmobile trails. And, Detroit is in the center of all the activities that make Michigan famous.

Tourism Industry & Feasibility

Why tourism? Is the project feasible?

  • At $6 trillion, tourism is the world′s largest industry, representing 10.6% of the world′s gross domestic product (GDP). Additionally, tourism is the world′s largest employer at 221 million jobs and growing at 4.6% per year. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the U.S. is No. 1 in projected growth between 2006 and 2025.
  • Ranked No. 9 in visitor volume, Michigan ranks above Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana and Arizona, and is among the most successful tourist destinations for Midwestern Americans. However, Michigan is ranked 14th in tourist spending, ranking the state 48th in domestic travel expenditures per capita. This represents a significant opportunity for a major destination.
  • There are more than 93.5 million leisure-related person-trips taken in Michigan each year.
  • Michigan has nearly double the tourism spending of the average state, yet Michigan has very few amusement activities.
  • Michigan travel expenditures are at $17.5 billion. Leisure travel is $13.4 billion. Compared to Florida′s $19.1 billion in out-of-state beach tourism (non-theme park tourism), Michigan tourism is strong. The closest competitive states to Michigan are North Carolina and Ohio, whose expenditure levels are nearly identical to Michigan′s, while Hawaii is not far ahead at $14.5 billion.
 

  • Typically, amusement accounts for 16.8% of core tourism spending in a state, representing a relatively untapped potential of $2.3 billion in Michigan.
  • Ambassador Bridge has 3.6 million commercial vehicles (not counting cars or campers) that view the site on an annual basis, creating another potential visitor group for MainStreet.
  • The Detroit-Windsor tunnel has 13,000 vehicles per day, 4.7 million vehicles per year, creating a potential visitor group for MainStreet America. At an average of 2.5 passengers per vehicle, an estimated 11.7 million potential visitors are entering and exiting in the heart of downtown Detroit within 1.5 miles of MainStreet America.
  • An estimated 2 million people from Michigan travel to Ohio for a theme park experience, yet the break-even target for a major Michigan theme park has been estimated at only 1.1 million.

Michigan Economic Profile

Currently, Michigan is on a track of slow recovery from a significant economic downturn. Historically, this is a cyclical pattern that Michigan experiences based on the ebbs and flows of the automotive industry. But, what does this mean to the park? Why expand the entertainment industry in a bad economy?

  • Bad economies always drive increased levels of entertainment and local spending on recreation. Entertainment reached its peak during the Great Depression in the 30s. It′s human nature to entertain ourselves through difficult times.
  • The CARRS Tourism Resource Center at Michigan State University released a report in 2006 stating, ″With less to spend and higher gasoline prices, Michigan residents are more likely to travel in Michigan where they can get ‘more bang for their bucks.′″ In fact, finances are a particular concern of the Midwest. In 2005, this region showed the largest declines in the perceived affordability of travel (-32%) and the ability to travel based on finances fell by 25.6%.
 
  • Because of cost-related issues, Michiganders typically stay close to home on vacation, even in the winter. The average Michigander only travels 779 miles for a vacation, making warm-state vacations out of reach in the cold seasons. Michiganders usually turn to skiing, sledding, skating, hunting, snowmobiling and other activities in the northern regions of the state.
  • Within a 779 mile drive of the project′s location are 62 million potential visitors.
  • Because of the increased strength of the Canadian dollar, Michigan is experiencing increased traffic, tourism and spending from Michigan′s northern neighbor, just a stone's throw away.
  • 95.3 million visitors come to Michigan each year, regardless of the economic conditions. Yet, the fear of development in the state has left an opportunity open. While other states have been over-developing for tourism, Michigan has never established a major tourist hub. The population and traffic is well-established, but there is nothing for people to spend their money on.

Michigan is possibly the most untapped tourist opportunity in the USA. It is among the leading states in tourism visits but almost last in amusement park activities. Consider Virginia. It′s a state that celebrates tourism as one of its top industries, celebrating $1.2 billion in 2006 taxes. It supports two major theme parks on the same side of the state. 2.8 million attend Busch Gardens, and still 2 million attend Kings Dominion, less than one hour away. Michigan has more tourist traffic than Virginia and no major theme park. We are proposing Michigan′s first major theme park that will support 1.8 million visitors. That represents only 2% of the 95.3 million annual tourist person-trip traffic.