By Jeremy Witt
On May 7, 1917, delegates from across Michigan gathered in the Pantlind Hotel in Grand Rapids (today part of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel), to work together to form the Michigan Tourist and Resort Association (today known as the West Michigan Tourist Association). Hugh J. Gray was appointed secretary/manager of WMTA upon its formation, and is honored with a stone cairn constructed of one stone from every county in Michigan to commemorate Gray as the “Dean of Michigan’s Tourist Activity.” This was the first grass roots tourist organization in the country, and was formed with the goal of promoting the attractions of West Michigan, and to encourage travelers to visit the region.
A hundred years later, the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) continues to work towards that same goal with a special tribute from Michigan’s Governor on the occasion of WMTA’s anniversary. With more than 850 member properties throughout the area, WMTA has come to be recognized as the leading source of travel information for the West Michigan area. WMTA makes a wide variety of travel information available free of charge, including an annual West Michigan Travel Guide, a Lake Michigan Lighthouse Map, a monthly e-newsletter, and more.
- Request a free copy of the West Michigan Travel Guide by mail (or view it online) to travel through the past 100 years in West Michigan, as well as the best of present day.
- Follow along on the West Michigan social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram) for Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts each week to explore visuals from the last 100 years in West Michigan.
- Participate in the West Michigan 100th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win a copy of WMTA’s commemorative photo book and the grand prize from Boyne Mountain Resort.
Since 1917, the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) has worked to market the very best of West Michigan to travelers from around the world. As WMTA celebrates 100 years in 2017, that commitment continues.
WMTA’s membership base consists of more than 800 attractions, lodging, events, and activities all across the west side of Michigan, from the Indiana border all the way into the Upper Peninsula. Over the past century, Michigan’s tourism industry has become second to only manufacturing in Michigan, making WMTA a vital resource for the area’s tourist destinations.
Today, WMTA continues its mission as a self-sustaining, membership-funded non-profit. For more information, please visit WMTA.org.