Faculty conversations: Dan McCole
When Michigan’s economy was strong, its tourism industry thrived on Michiganders taking vacations within their own state. But since Michiganders’ wallets have been tighter, the tourism industry has had to attract tourists from outside the state.
“Michigan as a travel destination in some ways is a well-kept secret,” Dan McCole said.
McCole, an assistant professor of commercial recreation and tourism in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, works with businesses to help them attract tourists.
One of his projects involves attracting people to the coastal communities in the thumb area.
“What happened in the thumb is there was a collapse of the chinook salmon fishery in 2004, and that was really one of the main reasons people traveled to the thumb,” McCole said.
McCole also works with the Oakland County park system as well as Michigan’s wine industry.
Small Michigan wineries, which would lose money if they tried putting their products on the shelves, must instead rely on people visiting their tasting rooms to make a profit, McCole said. Many Michigan wineries have found success by banding together to form wine trails for tourists to visit.
Even in these tough times, Michigan’s natural resources and agriculture are still its prize possessions, McCole said.
“Michigan is the second most diverse agricultural state in the country behind California. We have great local foods, and when we’re talking about tourism, that’s a big part of it,” he said. “When people travel, they want to experience local flavors.”