Tourism spending has increased in Dubois County and the region, according to the latest research on the industry.
Visitor spending in the county totaled $82 million in 2015, according to the latest analysis commissioned by the Indiana Department of Tourism; information for 2016 has not yet been compiled. Radius Indiana hired market research firm Rockport Analytics to study the information pertinent to the counties in its partnership: Dubois, Crawford, Daviess, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington.
The study compared tourism data from the previous three years. Dubois County grew from $65 million to $73.2 million in 2014, a 12.7 percent increase. The increase between 2014’s $73.2 million and 2015’s $82 million is 11.9 percent.
“Tourism is not only good for the local economy but also has many other benefits for the community,” Dubois County Visitor Center Executive Director Kevin Manley said. “Without tourism, each household in Dubois County would have to pay an additional $359 per year in taxes to maintain current state and local levels.”
The reason for the increase is likely because of the increase in and promotion of activities and sites in Dubois County, Whitney Hall of the Dubois County Visitors Center explained.
“We have so many collaborations with different organizations and businesses, sponsorships,” Hall said. “We have so many things coming up. We have so many partners who are adding events and doing activities.”
A total of 16 annual events have been added to Dubois County over the last five years, Hall said. “Now, the current focus of the Dubois County Visitors Center staff is to help grow the already existing events, be a partner and a resource for organizations putting on events/owning tourism related attractions, and to help give a more interactive visitor experience,” she said.
In addition, the visitor’s center has also increased its web presence and digital marketing. “Our website visits have increased,” she said.
Website traffic in 2016 increased 18.2 percent over 2015; national average in the tourism industry is a 6 percent increase. The total number of people who have liked the department’s Facebook page in 2016 showed a 33.2 percent over 2015 and a 95.7 percent over 2014.
“It’s an exciting time,” Hall said. “People see Dubois County in a positive light, and visitors enjoy that.”
In the Radius analysis, information about Orange County is being recalculated because some of its entertainment spending was included. Those new calculations have not yet been released. As for the other counties, tourism spending for 2015 totaled $28 million for Lawrence County, $48.4 million for Daviess County, $11.6 million for Greene County, $6.6 million for Crawford County, $4.4 million for Washington County, and $2 million for Martin County.
In the region, spending grew by 12.9 percent, which is more than the state (3.3 percent), the Indianapolis area (4.4 percent) and the median growth of all Indiana counties (2.7 percent).
According to the current report, spending in the region totaled $248.9 million. Lodging was the largest amount of that spending, at $67.8 million. Shopping was next at $61.6 million, followed by $60.2 million for food and beverage, $40.8 million in transportation, and $18.5 million for recreation and entertainment.
Data has shown that 73 cents of every one dollar spent on tourism stayed in the local economy, Manley said.
The Dubois County Visitors Center & Tourism Commission promotes the growth and development of the visitor and tourism industry in the county and is the one community organization empowered to do so.
Radius Indiana formed in 2009 as a regional partnership representing Dubois County and seven other counties in southwest central Indiana. It also serves as a point of contact in Indiana for Naval Support Activity Crane and leads regional collaboration by leveraging the diverse assets of the region to drive attraction, retention and expansion of business, thereby increasing employment and investment opportunities and quality of life.