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Presentation in Rockford Showcases Over 100 Years of West Michigan’s Tourism History

Dan Sippel, Executive Director at the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA), will introduce M. Christine Byron and her husband Thomas R. Wilson when they present the 100-year history West Michigan Tourist Association to the Rockford Area Historical Society on Thursday, February 7th. The 1:00 PM meeting is at the Rockford Community Cabin on Monroe Street.

The West Michigan Tourist Association was founded in Grand Rapids in 1917. Established as a non-profit organization based on membership, it was the first grass-roots tourist association in the country. At the time, the tourist industry was in its infancy.

Although railroad lines, steamship companies, and various hotels and resorts promoted the region they served, there was no concentrated effort to boost the tourism advantages of the state. With strong leadership and the committed members of WMTA, tourism has grown into one of Michigan’s leading industries. Byron & Wilson will feature some of the noteworthy efforts to advertise and promote our state over the last 100 years.

Christine Byron is retired from the Grand Rapids Public Library and together she and her husband have written five books focusing on the history of West Michigan tourism. They have been collecting postcards and Michigan tourism ephemera for over 30 years. The public is welcome to this event. In the event that Rockford Public Schools close due to bad weather the Rockford Area Historical Society will not meet.