Sports tourism was a big win for West Michigan last year. West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) generated over $55 million for the region in direct visitor spending through 100 sporting events. That’s more than a 300 percent increase from 2020 and a slight increase over 2019 revenue. According to tracking by WMSC, these 100 sporting events attracted 184,350 athletes and visitors and filled nearly 43,000 hotel room nights.
“Last year was an important rebuilding year for youth and amateur sporting events in West Michigan, as we rebooked canceled tournaments and added others to the roster,” says Mike Guswiler, president of WMSC. “As expected, we fared far better than in 2020 when most large gatherings were canceled or modified to eliminate spectators, but we also returned to pre-pandemic levels of sports tourism in many areas. This proves the resiliency of sports tourism and how it is one of the first sectors of tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels.”
In preparation for an even more robust sports tourism rebound this year, WMSC has boosted its staff, hiring Conner Hicks as national sales manager. Most recently, Hicks was a sales manager with Aimbridge Hospitality at Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Airport, where he managed all group sales initiatives. Along with this hire, Melissa Brink has been promoted to marketing manager. She first joined WMSC in 2015 as a marketing and event operations intern for Meijer State Games of Michigan.
The Events Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program, established in 1985, is recognized around the world as a badge of excellence in the events industry. JodieAnn Cady, an independent event project manager based in Mason, is among the professionals in the inaugural class of CMP Fellows, a program launched last year.
Located in Onekama and built in 1900 as the summer residence of lumber baron and Manistee Mayor Charles Canfield, Canfield House was purchased, completely renovated, and reopened as a year-round bed-and-breakfast in 2021. Featuring 200 feet of Portage Lake frontage, the property now offers a lakeside fire ring and new dock for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. The six-room house can be rented for small retreats and groups up to 125 accommodated for meetings and receptions.