Making a Comeback is Theme at 2022 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Traverse City

Industry leaders and organizations from around the world will be attending the 2022 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism this week, at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is anticipated to attend.

The theme for this conference is a come back after a devastating two years to the industry, one of the biggest in the state,  brought on by restrictions and challenges of the pandemic.

“Our industry was hit harder than any other across the globe in fact, in Michigan, 27 percent of the jobs lost were in the leisure and travel industry,” says Trevor Tkach, Traverse City Tourism President and CEO. “We’re still building back our teams and still working hard to try and prepare for what’s going to be a great year, but we’re still trying to get the group meeting business back.”

Discussion will be around attracting visitors to Michigan and encouraging locals to travel the state.

Tkach says one of the goals for Traverse City’s tourism industry is attracting more group meetings and conferences, such as the Pure Michigan conference. It also includes encouraging people to stay in the area throughout the year, not just Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“We’ve gotten through the pandemic,” says Tkach. “It definitely took its toll on northern Michigan. Leisure travel did quite well but we lost a lot of group business.”

The conference will also offer insight on research done in Michigan and its local communities about a post-pandemic recovery.

Tkach says sustainable tourism is the focus in Traverse City, and promoting the natural resources in the northern Michigan region. Diversity is also important.

“It’s always important to talk about diversity, especially on a state that has so much to offer to so many people,” says Tkach. “We want to make sure that we’re welcoming to all in Traverse City. I believe it has always been a great place for anyone to come and visit. We wanna make sure that that rings true for everyone.”

Diversity extends beyond the people in northern Michigan, it also includes the restaurant and hotel options.

Troy Curet, Red Mesa Grill General Manager, is looking forward to “normal.”

“Hospitality being the number one focus, instead of worrying about different mandates and things that we have to do,” he says. “Now, we can focus on the guests and focus on delivering a great experience.”

Curet says hiring is always an issue, but things are looking “pretty good” for now.

Staffing isn’t much of a concern at Hotel Indigo. Director of Sales and Marketing, Margaret Morse, says they are “gearing up” for summer by looking for more staff. But they can rely on their core staff that they’ve had since opening in 2016.

Morse says the hotel is already “pacing ahead” of where they were last year in terms of bookings.

“I expect that this year will be as busy or busier if that’s possible,” she says. “People are eager to get out and travel and enjoy the things that this area and our lovely state have to offer.”

The 2022 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference ends Thursday.