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Destination “new” Detroit

Recently a British music magazine to which I subscribe contained an “opinion” piece by an erstwhile “expert” that was not only just plain nasty, but also showed its author to be poorly informed about a great American city that, yes, has significant challenges, but is also striving tirelessly to reclaim its former glory. The occasion for the editorial was an extended strike by the musicians of the outstanding Detroit Symphony Orchestra, resulting from the financial predicament of the orchestra which left no alternative to wage and contract concessions, to one extent or another. 

Due to the current recession, which has hit Michigan particularly hard, and its arts organizations reliant upon donor contributions even more so, the good people of Detroit had to do without most of the DSO’s 2010-11 season. However, this vitriolic Brit apparently couldn’t refrain from attacking the city itself, which was too much for this “fan” of both the “Motor City” as well as the many, many hard-working, conscientious Detroiters who are doing their level best to put their home town back on track.

It must be easy, or more likely profitable these days for pompous, self-important media types to take cheap shots at people or places that apparently don’t qualify for their personal stamps of approval. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it right. I’ve always been an advocate of the philosophy that holds that if one is not part of the solution, then he or she is part of the problem. As a result, I’m going to ask those of you responsible for planning group travel to be part of the “solution” in helping give Detroit a “helping hand” and a brighter future. If you accept my challenge, you are going to accomplish two major goals.

First, by showing the positive economic impact of group travel, you are going to help your fellow Americans in the Wolverine State to emerge stronger from tough economic times. But second, your travelers are going to discover a city rich in history, rich in fascinating places to visit and fun things to do, and a city filled with friendly, welcoming people. Rather that just a place to drive around on the way to Frankenmuth or Mackinac Island, consider Detroit as a “new” destination for a long weekend trip, or at least plan on spending a day or two before heading north to other Michigan attractions. 

Bob Hoelscher, CTC, CTP, MCC, CTIE, is a longtime travel industry executive who has sold his tour company, bought a motorhome and is traveling the highways and byways of America.  He is a former chairman of NTA, and was a founding member of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP).

Well-known in the industry as both a baseball and symphony aficionado, Bob is also one of the country’s biggest fans of our national parks, both large and small.  He has already visited more than 325 NPS sites and has several dozen yet to see.  He is currently traveling the country to visit as many of those parks as possible.  His blog, “Travels with Bob,” appears periodically on The Group Travel Leader’s blogsite, “Are We There Yet”.

Bob is available for contractual work in the industry and may be reached at or by calling (435) 590-1553.


Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony