FROM THE OAKLAND PRESS
Vacation vouchers might give state tourism a boost
Web-posted May 19, 2006
This newspaper has repeatedly pointed out that state leaders spend most of their time wooing new industries and trying to hold onto old industries, but they virtually ignore the state's other star - tourism.
Now it appears that an Oakland Co. legislator agrees. Sen. Gilda Jacobs, DHuntington Woods, has introduced a bill that would provide any Michiganian who pays income taxes with a $75 tourism voucher that could be used at any hotel, motel, inn or resort in Michigan. The owner of the tourism destination could then use the voucher as a claim against the business' state tax bill.
Jacobs likens the plan to a "sale" on Michigan tourism that would spark greater use of our resources by state residents.
The idea just might work. It provides a big enough savings incentive to get people spending. And the timing coincides with recent spikes in the cost of gasoline that have people thinking about vacations closer to home.
Because of the state's ongoing economic problems, there are, of course, legitimate concerns about how much of an effect such a plan would have on state business tax revenue. But because Michigan families are likely to spend considerably more than $75 on an outing within the state, this plan could generate enough increased in-state spending to offset what the vouchers would cost.
It also would provide an almost immediate boost for the state's tourism industry, which could be followed by expansion and further development.
Most important, an in-state tourism voucher could be just the incentive to persuade Michiganians to vacation here rather than traveling to Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin or Ontario.
As with everything that Lansing does to overcome Michigan's economic doldrums, there is an element of risk. But this plan seems promising in that it could generate a wave of new tourism spending, just when the state needs it to counterbalance its present manufacturing slump
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