Thank you for your interest in South Haven. We look forward to assisting you in your request for information. Whether you are in need of South Haven information or South Haven area photos, we are happy to accommodate.  For interviews or more information please contact Lisa Shanley, Executive Director, at 1.800.SO.Haven or

Gov. Granholm calls for increase in Pure Michigan funding

Published: Monday, October 11, 2010, 4:08 PM     Updated: Monday, October 11, 2010, 6:26 PM
101110pure_michigan.jpgGood news from the state treasurer: Revenues in the state's general fund are more than $100 million above projections for fiscal year 2010. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is calling on state lawmakers to appropriate $25 million of that money to fund the Pure Michigan advertising campaign as soon as possible.

“Pure Michigan is a proven winner in supporting Michigan jobs and businesses,” Granholm said in a press release.  “With revenues higher than expected and with widespread support from this award-winning program it is important that we seize the moment to put this campaign back on track.  The move will also allow lawmakers time to focus on finding a long-term solution to fund Pure Michigan.”

Last month, the 2010 Pure Michigan fall advertising campaign fell silent because of a lack of funding, which was a "major blow" to Michigan's tourism-related businesses, according to George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The additional $25 million in funding would allow the state to resume its regional winter advertising program, its regional fall advertising program in 2011 and its regional and national program in spring and summer, Zimmerman added.

According to Crain's Detroit Business, both of Michigan's gubernatorial candidates support the Pure Michigan campaign.

There are 142,500 jobs in the state that depend on tourism, and the Pure Michigan campaign has delivered a significant return on investment, according to a study by research firm Longwoods International, spurring 680,000 new trips to Michigan from outside the Great Lakes region and 1.3 million regional visits. 

Visitors from outside the Great Lakes region spent $250 million at Michigan businesses last summer as a direct result of the Travel Michigan advertising program.  In addition, these new out-of-state visitors paid $17.5 million in state taxes while in Michigan, yielding a $2.23 return on investment for the tourism advertising.

Regional visitors spent $338 million at Michigan businesses last year improving the Pure Michigan regional return on investment from $2.86 in 2004 to $5.34 in 2009.


South Haven/Van Buren County visitors contribute $101 million to economy

SOUTH HAVEN - If you think there are a lot more tourists than there used to be in Van Buren County, you'd be right, according to a recent study.

Some 1.6 million visitors came to Van Buren County in the past year and contributed $101 million to the county's economy, according to a study commissioned by the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

And tourism is the county's fourth-largest employment category.

"The most surprising thing to us is the reality of the economic impact is so large," said CVB Executive Director Lisa Shanley. "To see figures like these, over 100 million dollars, is pretty astounding to us."

The last similar MSU study in 1996 showed significantly less revenue, even with inflation considered, Shanley said. She said figures have jumped up for the number of people and length of stays in hotels, motels, inns, resorts, bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals.

The CVB hired Daniel Stynes, professor emeritus of Michigan State University's Department of Park, Recreation and Tourism Resources, to better understand tourism's economic impact on the county.

"This study is a benefit for us because it gives us a more accurate accounting of tourism's impact and how we fit in the county's overall economy, especially with what's going on in the job market," Shanley said.

The study showed that tourism industry accounted for 1,338 jobs in Van Buren County in 2006. Tourism ranks behind education, government and the service sector for jobs.

Scientific research and development, fruit farming and motor vehicle parts making fell closely behind with 1,269, 1,228 and 950 jobs, respectively.

According to the Michigan Department of Economic Development's latest job statistics, there were 22,139 private sector jobs in Van Buren County in 2006, with half of the county work force being employed outside of the county.

Shanley said tourism can grow even more.

"With tourism, and (with) agriculture being one of the leading employment sectors, and the state putting emphasis on agritourism, we have a lot of potential here in Van Buren County for economic growth," she said.

Van Buren County statistics show that about half the county's 611 square miles consists of farmland. Food processing is the county's primary manufacturing activity. The county also has two wineries, several dozen fruit stands and farmers' markets and is a leading producer of blueberries in the state.

Lake Express boss tells harbor leaders not to 'chase rainbows'

By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle

May 22, 2010, 5:59AM

MUSKEGON - Don't look for port developments to jump-start the struggling economies in Michigan's coastal communities, the Michigan Port Collaborative was told Friday.

The two-day gathering of state port officials, held at the Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor, received a cautionary message from the head of the Muskegon-to-Milwaukee Lake Express ferry service. Before running Lake Express, Ken Szallai was director of the Port of Milwaukee.

Ken Szallai"(A port) does not generate domestic or international trade; it enhances and serves it," Szallai said of having "realistic expectations" as to the economic development potential of a Great Lakes harbor. "A successful port grows from a successful community."

Bright future

Szallai said, in general, ports have a "bright future" as a resurgence in manufacturing, continued traffic congestion on highways and concerns about pollution will drive more commerce back on the Great Lakes.

"The most successful ports have been structured in law to run as businesses: lean, flexible and responsive with a minimum of political interference," he said.

The Michigan Port Collaborative spring conference in Muskegon brought together 110 port officials from Detroit to Marquette. The group has been working for three years to strengthen ties among 100 port communities in Michigan in hopes of improving the state's recreational and commercial harbors.

Muskegon was selected for the meeting because it has a multitude of uses on Muskegon Lake and offers the largest deep-water port on the state's Lake Michigan coast. It has ferry service, bulk commercial freighter traffic, sportfishing and sailing on a historic industrial shoreline that has given way to residential and tourist-based developments.

"We were blessed to see the various sides of this port's activities," said Lisa Shanley, head of the South Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Officials from the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce and the economic development agency Muskegon Area First said they were pleased with how the local port was received by the out-of-town visitors.

"We showed what was going on in Muskegon as a port," said Dennis Kirksey, a local businessman and waterfront property owner. "I think a lot of people are now seeing Muskegon in a different light."

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Tall ships set sail for South Haven

Monday, August 03, 2009


SOUTH HAVEN -- It didn't take long for word to spread that two tall ships will be coming into port this week during the National Blueberry Festival.

The Nina and Pinta are expected to pull into the harbor about noon Tuesday. Dockside tours though the Michigan Maritime Museum will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The cost, which includes admission to the museum, is $15 for adults and $12.50 for children under 11.

``It's truly like going back in time,'' Patti Montgomery, administrator of the Michigan Maritime Museum, said of the ship visits.

It's been about a decade since tall ships other than the museum's Friends Good Will has visited the South Haven harbor. Then multiple ships drew 30,000 people, Montgomery said.

Montgomery said that although the visiting tall ships will not offer sails, there will be day and evening sails on the Friends Good Will ship. The 90-minute day sail costs $30, and the two-hour evening sail costs $40. For information, call (269)637-8078.

South Haven Event Shows Off Blueberries
by Robyn Rosenthal | Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette
Monday August 03, 2009, 2:30 PM

Verma Blair, 77, of Blair's Farm in Grand Junction shows her blueberries to Frank Gabrielo of Lemont, Ill, at the 2008 Blueberry Festival in South Haven. Blair has been farming blueberries for about 46 years and comes to the festival every year.

SOUTH HAVEN -- It's everything blueberry and everything free.


And it should be a winning recipe for families budgeting summer activities and area businesses clamoring for sales.

The four-day National Blueberry Festival -- South Haven's largest festival -- starts Thursday. The event annually draws more than 80,000 people, but together with the tall ships Nina and Pinta being docked at the Michigan Maritime Museum starting Tuesday, more than 100,000 visitors are expected to come to South Haven by Sunday.

"The current buzz is that the town is probably going to be exploding with people," said Lisa Shanley, executive director of the South Haven Visitors Bureau. "It guarantees we will be a tourism destination for those few days."

Zachary Jackson, 3, of South Haven looks over the food at the Steelheaders Fish Boil at the 2008 Blueberry Festival in South Haven.

The Blueberry Festival kicks off Thursday at the Huron Street pavilion with a chef demonstrating blueberry recipes. It continues through Sunday with such activities as sand sculpting, a children's pie-eating contest, a juried craft show and the South Haven Steelheaders' fish boil. The fish boil is a fundraiser for the Steelheaders, which uses the proceeds to support local events throughout the year.

"We're showing off South Haven and we're showing off the blueberry industry," event co-chairwoman Brenda Daggett said of the festival. "There really is something for everybody."

Featured on Friday are children's activities, including the popular pie-eating contest, which draws more than 200 kids, organizers say.

"Boy, when you get those 10- and 12-year-olds, they're going for the gusto," Daggett said. "They have blueberries in their eyes, they have blueberries in their nose."

This year's entertainment features AC/DC and Eagles tribute bands, a classic-rock band and country artist Billy Dean. The Bronk Brothers, a band that has opened for country-music star Kenny Chesney, will be on the main stage at 7 p.m. Friday.
New this year is a garden tractor pull, set for Saturday.

Festival activities, including the concerts, are free.

The festival is paid for with donations. Daggett said personal and corporate contributions are down about 50 percent this year, forcing organizers to cut the festival budget to less than $40,000. During the most lucrative years, organizers have spent about $60,000 on the festival.

"We've scaled back, but I don't think the public is going to recognize it," Daggett said.

Tourism in South Haven, other Lake Michigan towns on the upswing

by Robyn Rosenthal | Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette
Sunday August 09, 2009, 12:00 PM

Lindy DeVries-Campbell, left, owner of Sharkless Boardsports, 417 Phoenix St. in South Haven, shares a laugh with customer Cara Conway, of Orland Park, Ill.

SOUTH HAVEN -- Cool temperatures and an even cooler economy hasn't put a chill on the tourist season.

The state -- including southwestern Michigan -- is bucking an economic forecast by Michigan State University researchers who predicted a 1 percent to 3 percent decline in visitors this summer, according to local and state officials.

"When the calendar flipped to July, we saw an uptick," said Lisa Shanley, executive director of the South Haven Visitors Bureau. "Hopefully, we'll pull out a great year."

Kirsten Borgstrom, spokeswoman for Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said statewide tourism is at least equal to last year. Some communities, such as Sault Ste. Marie, are reporting double-digit increases in visitors, she said.

At the start of the summer, tourism officials were far less optimistic.

South Haven's Phoenix Street was bustling Friday with shoppers going in and out of stores.

Before the season started, Shores Vacation Rental in South Haven cut prices by 20 percent and allowed for shorter stays. Leasing agent Sally Newton said those changes likely made the difference, as their rental reservations are up 1 percent over last year and revenues are expected to be up as well. Shores manages 115 properties in South Haven.

"We had never discounted before," she said. "If we held out for week stays or had not lowered the price, we wouldn't be here."

Newton said she hopes to build on that momentum going into the fall, when rental fees will drop even more.

Millicent Huminsky, executive director of the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, said in July there was a 3.74 percent increase in visitors to Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties -- significant because last July those counties combined had a record 1 million visitors.

Spending less
Tourism is a multibillion dollar industry in Michigan, generating $874 million in state tax revenue in 2007. Between April and June, nearly 120,000 people have requested information about the state from Travel Michigan, a 200 percent increase over last year, Borgstrom said.

But increased tourism doesn't mean increased revenues. People are spending less on vacations and souvenirs and eating out less, Borgstrom said. How that translates into dollars won't be known until next spring, when MSU releases its data.

"People are still traveling," Borgstrom said. "I just think the trend is they're saving in other ways."

Jennifer Upton, whose family flies in from San Diego at least once a year to stay at a family home in South Haven, said they cut back on airline costs by making one longer trip to South Haven instead of two trips. "We've eaten more at home," she said.

Friends Carol Ambrose, Carol Stanley, Diane Draper and Sandra Dufur recently made a day trip from Hillsdale to Saugatuck and then to South Haven. They said tourism appeared up, but more people were window shopping.

"Prices are high for where the economy is," Draper said of the shops in South Haven.
Huminsky said merchants across southwestern Michigan have reported everything from record sales to declines.

Lindy DeVries-Campbell, owner of Sharkless Boardsports in South Haven, said product sales are down 20 percent compared to last year. But kiteboard rentals are up 30 percent to 40 percent and paddle and surfboards rentals have jumped 50 percent.

Jan Haglund, owner of the Beach House in South Haven, said traffic in her clothing and home decor store has been constant. She said the store added a line of customized wall decor this year, which has sold very well.

"What we're trying to do is cover all our bases," Haglund said. "If sales are down in one area, we make up for it in other areas."

Local residents are trying to do their part to boost the local economy. South Haven resident Jennie Geisler, whose has five children, said when her family eats out they make sure to go to a city restaurant.

"I don't know how much of a difference one family makes, but we try," she said.

Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck/Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau, said merchants in that area are doing at least as well as last year -- one restaurant is reporting its best year ever. The two largest marinas there are reporting full capacity, she said.

"I didn't expect a good year with this economy," Fairchild said.

Cara Conway, of Orland Park, Ill., tries on a jacket Friday at Sharkless Board Sports in South Haven while her friend Christine Aurelio, of Watervliet, watches.

Rough waters
But it's not smooth sailing for all industries this season.

Transient boaters to South Haven are down about 10 percent this year.

"Weather has been a huge factor," said Robin Abshire, who manages the city's four marinas. "As soon as the sun comes out, the boats come in."

Kevin Miller, general manager of Gull Lake Marine near Richland, said boat rentals are down 50 percent for the same period last year, largely because of the cool temperatures.

But while boat rentals have declined, there is a waiting list for the 85 boat slips at two marinas on the lake, he said.

Miller said there are two things likely keeping business going good on Gull Lake: boats there are smaller than those on Lake Michigan and less expensive to maintain. Also, Gull Lake is home for many boat owners, so they make boating a priority.

"We are doing quite well. It surprises me," he said.



Replica Nina, Pinta sail from history to port in South Haven
by Blake Thorne | Kalamazoo Gazette

Wednesday August 05, 2009, 6:00 PM

The Pinta, a replica of Christopher Columbus's famous ship, arrives just outside the Harbor at South Haven Tuesday.

• Keep reading for a photo slideshow and video.

SOUTH HAVEN -- Capt. Morgan Sanger and Capt. Kyle Friauf leaned against a railing Tuesday outside the Michigan Maritime Museum. Behind them, their ships, replicas of 15th-century vessels, looked out of place while nestled in the city's harbor among modern power cruisers and pontoons.

Sanger and Friauf are captaining the Pinta and Nina, respectively, replicas of the original vessels steered across the Atlantic by Christopher Columbus and his sailors more than 500 years ago. On this day, the sailors were glad to be on dry land.

"I love South Haven," said Sanger, glancing up and down the harbor.

"All the Michigan ports are great," Morgan said, adding that South Haven is nice because the town is along the water. "Here, the crew can have a good time."


WHAT: Tours of the Nina and Pinta replicas.

Location: Michigan Maritime Museum, 260 Dyckman Ave., South Haven.

Tours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday.

Admission: $15 for adults, $12.50 for children younger than 11. Museum admission included.

South Haven is the 16th of 23 stops the ships will make this year, starting with San Diego, Calif., in February and finishing in Charleston, W.V., in October. The ships already have made stops in Alpena and Petoskey and are headed for Michigan City, Ind.

Dockside tours of the ships were to be offered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday.

The two captains on this day looked like modern sailors: Friauf sported a gold pendant in the shape of an anchor hanging from his neck. Sanger wore big, black Wayfarer sunglasses.

"My favorite lake is Michigan," Sanger said, and the other captain agreed.

"It's oriented right -- north, south," Friauf said.

The Nina and Pinta's white sails appeared on the Lake Michigan horizon about 10 a.m. Tuesday. They docked in South Haven shortly before noon after departing from Waukegan, Ill., at 10:15 p.m. Monday. Besides the captains, the Nina carries a crew of six and the Pinta carries five.

Both ships are designed for historical accuracy, although for safety both are outfitted with motors and modern radio equipment.

The Pinta replica was built in 2004 and first set sail in 2005. With a deck length of 85 feet, it is slightly larger than the original.

The Nina, whose deck length is 65 feet, was built in 1991 and first set sail in 1992.

The ships typically visit ports across the Western Hemisphere From February to November. Their home port is technically in the British Virgin Islands, though most of each year is spent sailing.

One of the sailors for the past nine years on the Nina is Elli Kaiser, 82.

When Kaiser's husband died, her three children told her she needed to get out and stay active. She first began helping on the Nina when the crew was in home port working on the ship. From there, her adventure set sail.

"There's something about this little lady that keeps calling me back, year after year," said Kaiser, known to the crew as Miss Elli, while standing aboard the Nina.

Originally from New Mexico, Kaiser does work such as cooking and bookkeeping aboard the vessel.

She has no immediate plans to retire from the crew.

"I've still got a lot of the world to see," she said.


South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau
546 Phoenix Street
South Haven, MI 49090
Phone: 269 637-5252