1995 American Travel Survey - Michigan Results

Supplemental analysis of American Travel Survey
Daniel J. Stynes
February 1999

Jump directly to ATS tables.   Original 16 tables   Supplemental tables by lodging segments

Summary of American Travel Survey

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics conducted this travel survey in 1995. U.S. and individual state reports are available on the web (www.bts.gov) and the raw data files from the survey may also be obtained free of charge on CD-ROM. This is one of the best documented travel surveys I've encountered and based on the description of methods it was very carefully conducted. It includes the standard variables for estimating trip types and volumes for various subgroups: e.g. number of trips, origin and destination state/metro area, trip purpose, lodging type, length of stay, party size and makeup, transportatioin mode. Sampled households were resurveyed 3 or 4 times to get all HH trips by quarter. The study include all trips of 100 miles or more (one way). It includes foreign trips by US residents, but not trips by foreigners to the US. Files are available on a household or person trip basis.

Michigan Data:  There are almost 9,000 households trips with Michigan as origin or primary destination. The study estimated roughly 25 million trips originating in MI and 21 million with MI as the primary destination. There were 13 million HH trips within the state (from MI to MI). I use this survey for a number of the statewide parameters in my Michigan county level tourism spending model. The number of nights estimated in motels from the survey is consistent with Michigan lodging room use tax receipts (at a room rate of about $55). The survey is also reasonably consistent with my estimates of  nights in seasonal homes and campgrounds from lodging inventory and occupancy rates. The 100 mile limit on trips provides less information than some other surveys on day trips, although the percentage of day trips in ATS (24% of trips to MI, 16% of Pleasure trips) is higher than some other surveys that include trips down to 50 miles. Based on the MSU survey we estimate about half of day trips over 50 miles are between 50 and 100 miles.

Only trips with MI as primary destination are included in BTS estimates. This is less of a problem for Michigan than some other states, as the number of pass through trips for Michigan was small. BTS computations of person miles of round trip long distance highway travel shows a total of 12.696 billion divided 7.562 billion within MI (60%) , 2.803 on trips leaving MI (22%), 2.085 on trips entering MI (16%), and only .246 billion in pass through mileage (2%). In the 1998 Michigan Welcome Center survey, 13% of the trips were day trips to Michigan involving overnight stays outside Michigan. Most of these trips are probably not covered in the ATS statistics, as the primary destination is likely outside Michigan.

Basic Tables: Original 16 tables  BTS reports basic results broken down between a) in-state trips, from MI to MI, b) trips into MI, and c) trips out of MI. The number of HH trips for each category are reported by a) transportation mode, b) distance categories, c) calendar quarter, d) trip purpose, e) vacation or weekend trips, f) party size and type, g) nights away from home,  h) lodging at destination, and nights at destination (See Table BTS-1 from BTS/ATS95-ESTC/MI report). Other tables report these same statistics broken down by region and the most frequent states for origins and destinations. Person trips are further broken down by traveler characteristics of age and gender, race, hispanic origin, income, household type, education, and employment status (Table BTS-11).

Trips by Lodging Segment:

METHODS : I've prepared 12 additional tables (Supplemental tables by lodging segments)   that report household trip estimates and characteristics by the five lodging segments: motel, camp, seasonal home, VFR, and day trips. These segments were identified from BTS's lodging at destination variable (LODGDEST). Party nights by segment were computed using reports of  Nights away from Home in each lodging type. Some nights spent outside Michigan will be included in party night estimates, although comparison of average nights at destination (3.33)  vs nights away from home (3.44) suggests this bias will be minor and largely offset by omission of trips in some lodging categories (see below).

 Motel includes BTS's motel, rented cabin, conference center and health spa/resort categories. Camp includes camper and tent categories, Seasonal home is the owned cabin, condo or vacation home category and day trips are those involving no nights away from home. A small number of cases reporting other lodging categories were omitted , i.e.  YMCA, youth hostel, slept in car, on plane/train, dormitory, corporate and military housing and other.

 Tables by segment include 1) all trips to MI, 2) All trips to Michigan from out-of-state, 3) Trips within Michigan (MI to MI), 4) trips from MI to other states or foreign countries, 5) Business trips to Michigan, 6) Pleasure trips to MI,  7) Personal trips to Michigan (school or personal),  8) Trips to Non-metro destinations in MI, 9) Trips to Metro areas in MI, 10) Pleasure trips to MI excluding VFR, 11)  VFR trips to MI and 12) Air travelers to Michigan. For each table I report raw and weighted sample size, average party size, nights away from home and nights at destination, total party trips and nights, trips from MI origins or out-of-state, and trips by purpose.


All trips to MI (Table 1) : Stays with friends and relatives account for 35% of trips to MI, followed by motels (28%), and day trips (24%). Eight percent of trips involve stays at an owned seasonal home and 5 % at campgrounds. In terms of party nights (where day trips and one night trips are each treated as one party day/night),  VFR and seasonal home shares increase due to longer average lengths of stay. VFR trips account for 43% of party nights, motels 25%, and seasonal homes 20%.  Michigan residents account for 62% of the trips, but only 42% of the party nights.

 Trips from outside MI (Table 2): Non-resident trips involve somewhat longer stays than trips within Michigan. There are fewer day trips and a higher percentage of trips staying in motels or with FR. The BTS estimates for nonresident camp and seasonal home trips are unreliable . The average stay for seasonal home trips is inflated by a couple of cases from FL staying over 100 night (one of these was a business trip yielding the large number of business trips in seasonal home column). Trips entering (Table 2)  vs leaving Michigan (Table 4) are more likely to be for outdoor recreation or visiting friends and relatives, while trips leaving are more likely to be for sightseeing ,entertainment, or shopping.

Trips by Purpose: (Tables 5-7): By trip purpose, 33% of trips to MI are to visit friends and relatives, 32% are other pleasure trips, 25% business trips, and 9% for personal reasons. Half of the business trips involve stays in motel another 38% are day trips. Just over half are from MI.

Metro-Nonmetro: About half of trips are to metro areas. Trips to metro areas are more likely to be day trips or stays with FR. Business, VFR and personal reasons dominate trips to metro areas., while 17% of nonmetro trips are for outdoor recreation and 24% for rest and relaxation. Motel stays are longer in non-metro areas, while VFR stays are longer in metro areas.

Travel Deficit : I've done some preliminary analysis of the state's deficit in travel. based on ATS survey, Michigan  sends out about 3.5 million more trips than it brings in from outside. Some of the key sources of this deficit can be teased out of the data. Business trips account for about 800,000 of the household trip deficit. Outdoor recreation is the only trip purpose with a net in-flow over outflow, in spite of a camping deficit. Deficits are largest in the "off-season". A large deficit appears in trips for rest and relaxation, sightseeing, and entertainment. Florida accounts for 21% of the R&R and sightsee trips out-of-state. Ohio (likely Cedar Point) and  Nevada (likely gambling) dominate the entertainment trips out of state. Michiganders tend to go out-of-state for their longer vacation trips, while relatively fewer residents of other states come to Michigan for these kinds of trips.

Original 1995 ATS Tables for Michigan.These tables are from the Michigan Report. (BTS/ATS95-ESTC/MI)
Trip Characteristics on HH Trip Basis Trip Characteristics on person trip basis Traveler  Characteristics
Table 1: HH Trips to from and Within Michigan Table 6. Person Trips to from or within MI Table 11. To, From or Within MI
Table 2: HH trips from Michigan to Census Divisions Table 7. Person Trips from MI to Census Regions Table 12. From MI to Census Reg
Table 3: HH TRips To MI from Census Divisions Table 8. Person Trips to MI from Census Regions Table 13. From MI  to Census Reg
Table 4: HH Trips from MI to top 10 State destinations Table 9. Person Trips from MI to top 10 States Table 14. From MI to States
Table 5: HH Trips to MI from top 10 State origins Table 10. Person Trips to MI from top 10 States Table 15. From States to MI
Table 16. Summary Table of HH trips , person trips, person miles of travel, & vehicle miles for trips from, to or within MI

Supplementary Tables for Michigan. These supplemental tables were generated by us from the ATS trip data files using all trips to or from Michigan (as primary destination). BTS includes all trips of 100 miles or more (one way). Tables report the number of trips (these are party trips) within five lodging segments. These are the same segments for which we estimate state and county tourism spending.

      Motel are trips involving overnight stay in hotel, motel, B&B, resort, rented cabin or home, etc.
        Camp are trips involving overnight stay in campgrounds (tent or RV camping)
        Seasonal home  (SH) includes trips with overnight stay in an owned seasonal home
        Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) are trips involving an overnight stay in a friend or relatives home (F&R is lodging type, not trip purpose here)
        Day trips are trips not involving an overnight stay

Select the hyperlink in Table column to view a particular table below.
Table               Description
TableS1.htm . All Trips to MI
TableS2.htm. Non-resident Trips to MI
TableS3.htm. Trips Within Michigan: MI to MI
TableS4.htm. MI trips outside incl foreign
TableS5.htm. Business Trips to MI
TableS6.htm. Pleasure Trips to MI
TableS7.htm. Personal Trips to MI
TableS8.htm. All Trips to MI metro areas
TableS9.htm. All trips to MI non-metro areas
TableS10.htm. Pleasure Trips to MI(excludes VFR)I
TableS11.htm. VFR trips to MI
TableS12.htm. Air travelers to MI

A small number of trips involving stays in Corporate or military housing, dorms, YMCA's or shelters, or sleeping in car are not included in these tables.
The Number of actual cases on which results are based are given as "Raw N" at top of each column. Results with N<100 will be unreliable and should be interpreted accordingly. Detailed documentation, reports and raw data for the ATS survey are available at the BTS web site.