Michigan Cares for Tourism is a volunteer-based program for the tourism industry that coordinates an annual multiday clean-up at an historic attraction, among other events.
“We were the first state in the nation to replicate the Tourism Cares model,” said Patty Janes, Michigan Cares for Tourism volunteer coordinator. Janes is a professor in the department of hospitality and tourism management at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.
Investing in people and historic attractions reaps many benefits, Janes said.
“Volunteers grow and connect with people in the industry, they learn about a destination and they interact with people of all ages, levels and disciplines,” Janes said.
Tourism attractions are spruced up, ensuring visitors have higher quality guest experiences.
And tourism pros help spread the word about the destination.
“Once we tried the volunteer projects, the Michigan tourism community could not get enough of it,” Janes said.
Michigan Cares for Tourism works in partnership with Grand Valley State University, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Tourism Cares and Travel Michigan.
“Tourism people are incredibly hard workers,” Janes said. “They are super passionate about people and historic places. The people at the attraction can’t believe how much gets done. They say, ‘It would have taken us a lifetime to do this.’ It’s one of my favorite moments.”
In the organization’s six years, more than 1,800 tourism professionals have volunteered their time and talents, contributing more than $500,000 in supplies and labor.
This year’s clean-up event is scheduled for Sept. 16–18 at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park in Copper Harbor.
During National Tourism Week, Michigan Cares for Tourism and Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation held an Adopt-A-Bed event. Local tourism organizations, attractions and hotels were given the opportunity to help beautify the city’s 74 parks and flower beds.
For more information, go to michigancaresfortourism.com.