Master Planning for Tourism in Michigan is a resource document for communities that seek to identify their unique tourism assets; find ways to balance economic opportunity with quality of life; and protect their valuable assets from being loved to death.

Promotion and management of tourism lies squarely within local government’s duty to plan and control land use to safeguard public health, safety, and welfare. This guide has been created to help elected and appointed municipal leaders and their professional staff understand how to incorporate community-driven tourism into their master plans.

This guide provides suggestions for how to work with tourism industry professionals to plan for tourism that supports the community’s economy and quality of life while protecting and enhancing the unique cultural and natural assets that attract these visitors.

In the end, this project identified a gap between traditional tourism marketing efforts and the master plans for economic development, land use, and public infrastructure that provide communities with the foundation for a beneficial tourism economy. This guide is a first attempt to close the gap.

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Master Planning for Tourism in Michigan (10 MB)

Tourism Planning Resources


Demystifying Tourism Planning - MAP Conference presentation, Andy Northrop, Nate Heffron and Wendy Rampson (2020)

Housing Solutions in Rural Recreation Communities - USDA Rural Redevelopment (2023)

Strategies for Providing Affordable Housing for Tourism Industry Employees - Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism (2022)

Tourism Asset Mapping

Mapping and Managing Natural and Cultural Assets – Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism (2017)

 Rural Tourism Asset Map: Henry Rural Rock Island Mercer IL Counties 2014

Tourism Training Programs

Balancing Nature and Commerce Program - The Nature Conservancy

First Impressions: Assessing Your Community for Tourism Program - Michigan State University Extension

Leave No Trace - Center for Outdoor Ethics

Sustainable Tourism Training Program - Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Understanding Tourism for Michigan Communities - Michigan State University Extension

Global Agritourism Network

Michigan Resources

 Assessing the Potential for Sustainable Ecotourism in Alger County Scott Jordan, PhD and David Kronk (2016)

Grand Haven Area Convention and Visitors Bureau webpages:

 Sustainable Coastal Tourism Development in Northeast Michigan Laura Johnson and Brandon Schroeder (2012)

Michigan State University Extension Tourism website

Michigan Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (2023-2027) 

Michigan’s Travel Industry/Pure Michigan webpages:

 Ecotourism on the Sunrise Coast

US-23 Heritage Route webpage

Example Plans

 Charleston SC Tourism Management Plan

Colorado Springs & the Pikes Peak (CO) Region Destination Master Plan 

Juneau (AK) Long Range Tourism Master Plan and Tourism Best Management Practices

Kaua’i Kakuo (HI) General Plan

Topeka (KS) Historic Preservation Plan

Sedona (AZ) Sustainable Tourism Plan and implementation website

Related Resources

The Amenity Trap: How high-amenity communities can avoid being loved to death, Headwaters Economics (2023)

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For a copy of the July-August 2022 Michigan Planner issue on tourism planning, contact Wendy Rampson at