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      Conference focuses on culinary tourism in Michigan

      The expanding tourism industry was the topic of conversation for the first full day of the Pure Michigan Governor's Conference.

      The conference brought about one thousand representatives from the tourism industry and economic leaders to northern Michigan. This yearâ??s theme was culinary tourism as people looked at how to welcome visitors from across the globe.

      â??More and more people when they travel want to go to places that have great restaurants that serve local products,â?? said David Denison, Amical Part Owner and Chef. â??It keeps giving us an opportunity to serve new travelers or new visitors that maybe have not experienced this area.â??

      From eating to boating to shopping, tourists who visit the mitten, no matter where they're traveling from, have many ways to stay busy.

      â??There was a time when the Michigan resident base produced about 70 percent of total tourism outcomes. Those days are long gone now. We see many more people coming from other states to spend their time; enjoy their families and spend their money here in this state,â?? said Steve Yencich, Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association.

      People also heard from a culinary tourism development expert who explained what it takes to create a unique culinary tourism experience.

      â??So we're becoming here in Traverse City and throughout northern Michigan a foodie town or a foodie area,â?? said Representative Wayne Schmidt from the 104th District. â??So we're focusing on Michigan's rich agricultural heritage and coupling it with our successful restaurants.â??

      A panel of international hospitality experts was at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa on Monday. They traveled from as far away as China, Germany, Japan and Canada.

      Leaders have already seen the benefits from advertising in Michigan, such as the Pure Michigan campaign which started in 2006.

      â??Return on investments back in 2006 for every dollar of state money invested generated on average about $2.47 in new tax revenues. Now it's upwards of $5.76,â?? said Yencich.

      The winner of the Pure Michigan Jump Start Award will be announced on Tuesday as the conference comes to a close. The winner will get $5,000 toward their new business.