Tourism Industry Recognized at 2021 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Thursday, November 4, 2021

• Industry awards recognize individuals, tourism entities that exemplify best practices, impact on industry • Trenton named a Pure Michigan Trail Town

DETROIT, Mich. – At the 2021 annual Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism this week, travel industry leaders recognized top hospitality individuals and entities for their contributions to Michigan’s tourism industry. Also announced was the latest Pure Michigan Trail Town designation.

“The best in tourism awards honor those individuals and entities that go above and beyond in making Michigan a top travel destination, and this year we also recognize several individuals and organizations that stepped up to help keep our residents safe during a global pandemic,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “It is vital to recognize our industry partners, whose passion, dedication, and collaboration are critical to the success of travel in Michigan.”

The Governor’s Awards for Innovative Tourism Collaboration were created in 2009 by the Michigan Travel Commission to elevate the status of Michigan’s tourism industry and to promote innovative collaboration as an effective, efficient, and creative operating principle for the industry.

The awards and recognitions announced include:

2021 Governor’s Awards for Innovative Tourism Collaboration:

  • The Innovative Tourism Collaboration Award for Marketing was presented to the Monroe County Museum System and the Save Our Stories Committee’s “This Is Where” campaign. Museums help strengthen communities and contribute not only to the quality of life and placemaking, but as an economic driver in heritage tourism. The Monroe County Museum System created a collaborative marketing campaign to showcase the importance of their community heritage to increase community focus, enhance community pride and support heritage tourism in the county. The collaborators have been successful on all fronts with their multi-faceted campaign. The showpiece video has been viewed nationwide and won industry awards for its creative impact. The Save Our Stories project highlights the voices of the community members, business owners, religious leaders and school children to give visitors personal insights about what makes the historic features of Monroe an impactful experience for all.
  • The Innovative Tourism Collaboration Award for a Non-Traditional Partnership was presented to the collaborators of Battle Creek’s World’s Longest Breakfast Drive-Thru. Hundreds of cars came through a drive-thru during as hundreds of volunteers loaded up a nutritious breakfast of two gallons of milk and cereal as well as other donated dairy items. The event provided publicity and enhanced opportunities for collaboration amongst all the partners. But, more importantly, the event helped families during the pandemic when unemployment and food scarcity were greatly impacting residents. More than 20,000 dairy items and 4,000 gallons of milk were distributed during the event and the positive impacts were felt throughout the community.

Presented by Dave Lorenz and Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan (TICOM) member Julie Pingston, the Collaboration Awards are intended to promote innovative collaboration as an effective, efficient and creative operating principle for the tourism industry.

2021 Legacy Awards: Pfizer and Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing
Presented by Dave Lorenz, the annual Legacy Award is given to a person or organization that has served the Michigan travel industry in an extraordinary way, either during a lifetime of achievement or during the past year in some extraordinary way.

This year’s Legacy Awards go the “Manufacturers of Hope:” the frontline workers at Pfizer in Portage and Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing (producer of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) in Grand Rapids, for their work to produce and distribute lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, lifting the spirits of countless people around the world and allowing them to live fully and resume traveling safely.

Pure Award
The Pure Award is intended to recognize Michigan tourism entities that have pioneered the incorporation of innovative and exemplary best practices in natural, cultural, and/or heritage stewardship into their daily operations. This year, the Pure Award went to Lakeshore Art Festival (LAF), a collaboration of public and private partners including the city of Muskegon, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Visit Muskegon (Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Muskegon Museum of Art and many local businesses.

LAF is centered around positive social, economic and environmental impacts that complement the revitalization of Muskegon as a tourist attraction and a great place to live, work and play. This collaboration was a conscious effort to help revitalize downtown Muskegon through investment, environmental stewardship, supporting the arts and tourism. Before the pandemic, the festival brought in 50,000 visitors, diverting 10,289 pounds of material from landfills while providing more than $7 million dollars in economic impact.

Pure Michigan Trail Town
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Travel Michigan, recognized the city of Trenton as a Pure Michigan Trail Town. Over the past several years, the city of Trenton has been diligently working on enhancing its trail system, bicycle network and connection to the Downriver Linked Greenways, part of the statewide Iron Belle Trail.

Trenton developed a Trail Town Master Plan and together with its Parks and Recreation master plan, laid the framework to promote community access to the waterfront, a walkable downtown, and a healthy way of living. Trenton has both access to water trails by being located on the Detroit River, as well as biking and walking trails that are now linked to the Michigan Iron Belle Trail, as well as the Downriver Linked Greenways.

“Michigan is home to four seasons of trails, with a wide variety of great trails and trail towns,” said Michael Morrison, Pure Michigan Trail Program Manager at the MDNR. “With its expanding trail network and location along the Michigan Iron Belle Trail and Detroit River American Heritage River Trail, the city of Trenton is uniquely positioned to receive Pure Michigan Trail Town Status.”

The trails and towns that receive this designation are identified as among the best of the best in the state of Michigan, promoting healthy lifestyles, conserving natural resources, and providing a catalyst for economic activity in their communities. To learn more, visit here.

Tourism representatives, economic development professionals and meeting planners from across Michigan gathered in Detroit this week for the 2021 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, where they are focusing on the latest trends and changes in the industry and gaining insights on a broad array of topics.

Sessions being offered during the conference include topics such as placemaking, a look at travel in the future, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, cybersecurity for businesses, and more.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.