The local tourism landscape was laid out during a recent event.

The Livingston County Convention & Visitors Bureau (LCCVB) hosted its Partner Meeting in which leadership shared new economic impact numbers and local tourism data. Dave Lorenz of Travel Michigan was among the speakers and two awards were presented. Data showed a 52.1 % hotel occupancy rate for Livingston County in 2018, which officials say is in line with the state of Michigan’s rate of 52%. Visitor spending in the county totaled $264 (m) million in 2017, marking a 5.8% increase from the previous year according to a Tourism Economics Report. LCCVB Executive Director Mary Zucchero says Livingston County has received an increase in visitors to the area due to all of the amazing events, exciting attractions, and numerous experiences – saying the area offers up north charm, just around the corner.

Among the featured speakers was Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, which is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He provided an update on the Pure Michigan campaign and Michigan tourism data. Awards were also presented during the meeting. The 2019 Ambassador of Tourism was awarded to John Colone, the owner of Screams Ice Cream and other businesses in Hell, Michigan. Officials say Colone has been in service to people all his life. As a former Vietnam War veteran that has owned large and small businesses, he is credited with putting Hell, Michigan on the map as a tourism destination. It was noted that over the years, Colone has come up with creative experiences to draw thousands of visitors to the Hell/Pinckney area. Colone said he was honored to accept the award and promote Hell, Michigan’s hysterical destination.

Larry Kuebler of Mt. Brighton accepted the new 2019 Changemaker Award, saying they’re thankful to be in a county that supports and celebrates outdoor winter recreation. Officials described Mt. Brighton as an attraction leader that has invested millions in enhancements to their Vail resort, in addition to joining the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce Environmental Council and implementing various sustainability efforts. Kuebler spoke about how Mt. Brighton has switched to reusable water and fountain beverage cups, started a new composting system, added a new water system that has saved over 21,000 plastic water bottles in one winter season alone, among several other efforts. (JM)