By: Joe Timbrook
Through the eyes of our visitors to the Radius Region the word “tourism” stirs visions of a favorite family getaway destination, a picturesque hiking adventure through rolling hills or that perfect anniversary dinner at a winery, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
But through the fine-tuned lens of an economist, tourism can be seen much differently. It is viewed as a jobs creator, a tax revenue generator and most importantly as a powerful industry that helps drive the economy in our region.
According to a newly released study by market research firm Rockport Analytics, tourism spending in our region continues to grow—increasing by $11.8 million from the previous year.
The study compared tourism data during a two-year period for Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington counties and includes jobs in the industry directly supporting our visitors such as hotel accommodations, as well as in supply chain sectors like transportation.
Let’s take a look at the numbers from Rockport:
$283.4 million in tourism spending, which has a $206.2 million in lasting economic impact to an eight-county, mostly rural region in southern Indiana. This visitor spending has a significant impact on lodging, transportation, shopping, food & beverage and entertainment businesses in every city and town as evidenced by the following:
- $73.8M spent on food & beverage or 26.0% of total tourism spending (vs. state 27.9%)
- $70.2M spent on lodging or 24.8% of total tourism spending (vs. state 16.4%)
- $67.6M spent on shopping or 23.9% of total tourism spending (vs. state 22.1%)
- $40.7M spent on transportation or 14.4% of total tourism spending (vs. state 16.4%)
- $31.1M spent on entertainment & recreation or 11.0% of total tourism spending (vs. state 18.0%)
73% of every dollar spent on tourism in the Radius Region stays in the region.
5,093 tourism-related jobs in an area with a workforce of 106,375 adults (or 4.8% of the total) providing wages totaling $121.3 million. These payroll dollars support jobs of nearly every type; from stores to gas stations to tourist attractions to hotels and restaurants. Residents have jobs because visitors spend their money here. One out of every 20 workers in the region is employed because of the tourism industry. Studies show that those individuals who start out working in the hospitality industry come to enjoy significant salary growth over time—better than the average regional or national salary.
Tourism spending results in $60.3 million in tax revenue generated region-wide. Without this federal, state and local impact, each regional household would have to pay an additional $618 annually in taxes. A portion of the local tax collection is used for the development of tourism initiatives and investments in each county. In addition, revenue collected from tourism supports the equivalent of 3,777 public school students in the region.
Tourism is the #7 industry in the region. In a state that is heavily invested in manufacturing and technology, tourism ranks higher in the Radius Region as a top industry coming in at #7 compared to the tourism industry for the state of Indiana, which ranks at #10. Industries that have higher rankings by total employment are manufacturing, government, health and social services, retail/accommodations/food and beverage and construction.
The Radius Region is home to the magnificent French Lick Resort and the West Baden Hotel, which is a top destination in the United States for visitors. The rest of the area is some of the most beautiful terrain in the nation and is known as the “garden spot of the Midwest.” Other interesting destinations include Patoka Lake Reservoir, Hoosier National Forest and multiple state parks and recreations sites. It includes our one-of-a-kind limestone heritage, a thriving Amish community, and much more.
It is easy to see how tourism is a thriving industry. And now, with the regional tourism industry’s economic impact in full focus, the next angle we look at is: How do we maximize it?
We work hard to create the experience and feeling that we want every visitor to have when they spend time in our region. The same feeling we have because we live here and love it.
Look for information regarding “A Promise for Southern Indiana,” a new regional tourism initiative throughout 2018.
Joe Timbrook, COO