The study found that the numerous breweries in Grand Rapids and Kent County are popular tourist attractions, attracting over 94,000 beer tourists in the study year. A total of 40% of beer tourists also stayed in a hotel/motel in the Grand Rapids area.
“The idea of ‘Beer City USA’ didn’t just happen overnight,” said Max Trierweiler, Owner of The Mitten Brewing Co. “Experience Grand Rapids has helped take an idea that there was great beer being brewed in GR and made it into a movement. First, they helped push for the literal recognition which came from Examiner.com and then they nurtured it by creating promotions like the Beer City Ale Trail, Beer Month GR and the Brewsader Passport program.”
Beer tourists supported 378 jobs and $9.9 million in earnings in the county, which is an increase from 2015 study that showed 171 jobs and $3.3 million in earnings were supported in the county.
Alongside marketing efforts, Experience Grand Rapids has utilized its brewery partners to help with convention promotion.
“It’s been a pleasure exhibiting with the EXGR sales team at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) over the years,” said Dave Engbers, Co-Founder of Founders Brewing Co. “I’ve watched firsthand how the association executives from all over the US have positively responded to Grand Rapids as a craft beer destination. The way EXGR has embraced ‘Beer City’ in all aspects of their work, from leisure travel to convention business, is definitely something we commend and will continue to be a part of in the future.”
“We’re excited to greet visitors to the Country Inn & Suites East Beltline that are here to explore the beer scene,” said Ed Wilson, General Manager of the Country Inn & Suites East Beltline. “We applaud the efforts Experience Grand Rapids has put towards ‘Beer City’, and we do our best to align with them such as selling Beer City merchandise at the front desk and offering a Beer City Ale Trail to guests.”
Overall, this study reinforces the idea that craft beer is an economic driver as well as a reason people view Grand Rapids as a destination they want to visit.