THE GOSHEN NEWS
The positive economic impact of tourism on Elkhart County is growing.
According to the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, tourism contributed $401.6 million to the county’s economy in 2011. That was an increase over the industry’s $367.6 million contribution in 2009.
The bureau said the figures come from a study by Certec Inc.
Direct expenditures by visitors accounted for $273.1 million of the total, up from $250 million in spending in 2009.
“This growth in visitor spending is significant when you consider Elkhart County was in a deep economic recession in 2009,” said Diana Lawson, the executive director for the bureau. “These tourism dollars help support dozens of local businesses and impact banking, insurance, real estate, public utilities, construction, manufacturing and agriculture.”
The study found the Indiana Toll Road and local attractions to tourism spending in Elkhart County were important. According to the bureau, pass-through highway travelers as well as those arriving at specific destinations in Elkhart County, have helped create the extensive network of attractions, lodging properties, restaurants, and specialty shopping that exists in the county. As a result, the county is not overly dependent on a single tourism sector, according to the bureau.
“Our destination’s events and festivals are also important contributors to Elkhart County’s tourism industry,” Lawson said. She said the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail and Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival were recently designated Top 100 Events in North America for 2013 by the American Bus Association. The venues have made the list five times each.
“It makes a positive statement about the quality of our destination’s tourism product when Elkhart County’s events are continually recognized for their excellent entertainment value and potential to generate tourism dollars,” Lawson said.