Bartels: Expanding Indiana’s tourism industry

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Friday, April 12, 2019 4:18 pm

Indiana’s tourism industry has grown tremendously, generating nearly $13 billion from visitor spending in 2018. Legislation I co-authored, now being considered as a new law by the governor, would help Indiana’s robust tourism industry continue to thrive through public-private partnerships.

Uniting the public sector with tourism professionals and businesses throughout the state would further grow the industry and help ensure resources are being invested in the right places. This legislation would establish the Indiana Destination Development Corp. as a joint public-private funded agency to replace the Office of Tourism Development. The new corporation would be implemented in July 2020, assuming all of the tourism office’s previous responsibilities, including marketing the state to attract more visitors. I believe a public-private partnership will foster creative thinking and an innovative vision to further promote Indiana tourism.

This change in department dynamics will not only help boost the overall state economy, but will also impact Southern Indiana’s diverse tourism industry. As we enter warmer months, it is a great time to take advantage of the many attractions in our area. Crawford County is home to Indiana’s most visited natural attraction, Marengo Cave. This national landmark offers a variety of activities including walking tours of the Crystal Palace and the Dripstone Trail, exploration trips, and canoe trips down the Blue River.

Running through Dubois, Crawford, and Orange counties, Patoka Lake is the second-largest reservoir in Indiana. The lake area includes an archery range and a disc golf course and offers hunting. There are also various hiking trails are in the area to accommodate all ages and skill levels.

Spencer County is home to the world’s first theme park, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, where the holiday season never ends. Holiday World has water parks, rollercoasters, and many family activities. It is also close to the Lincoln State Park where you can walk through Abraham Lincoln’s old neighborhood and learn about the history of his life.

French Lick has been a tourist attraction for hundreds of years for everything from family vacations to being the host for annual business meetings. Visitors can use bikes, tandems, surrey carts and horses to travel around the area. If you are looking for more action, an adrenaline boost can be found at Perry County’s world class zip line park. Also nearby is the Hoosier National Forest, which has more than 10 miles of walking trails. The national forest offers various other activities including camping, fishing and rock climbing.

After another record-breaking year for Indiana’s tourism, this legislation will continue to open opportunities for growth in the industry. I encourage you to visit these attractions and check out other events and sites near you.

More information about these and other exciting getaways throughout the state can be found online at www.visitindiana.com. To learn more about proposals for new laws, visit iga.in.gov. You can also contact me with any questions or input at h74@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9802.

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State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74, which

includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.