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Study: Wabash tourism spending up in 2017

January 25th, 2019

By Joseph Slacian | The Paper of Wabash County

Tourism brought in $53.6 million in 2017, according to a new study, up $2.6 million from the previous year.

The study was released Friday, Jan. 18, by Christine Flohr, executive director of tourism with Visit Wabash County, shows the growing impact tourism has on Wabash County’s economy.

“Based on the increase in independent lodging options in the county and the increase in VWC marketing efforts, I was confident we would see an increase in tourism spending,” Flohr told The Paper of Wabash County.

The study, the most recent figures available, also showed that:

  • Visitors spent $ 15.9 million on retail, $15.1 million on food & beverage, $11.4 million on transportation/fuel, $6.2 million on recreation & entertainment, $4.7 million on lodging. 

These are the key categories monitored by the study.

  • Of every tourism dollar spent in Wabash County in 2017, 45 cents stayed local and led directly to the gross county product of Wabash County.
  • Due to visitor spending, the tax burden of Wabash County was relieved by $361 per household.
  • Traveler spending supported 854 jobs in Wabash County, of these, 753 were directly employed by the tourism sector.

“Knowing that Wabash County surpassed the state median and major metropolitan areas like Indianapolis in the growth of tourism spending, shows that the collaborative marketing approach our office takes is progressively advancing the economic health of the county,” Flohr said.

The economic importance of tourists to a community extends well beyond core hospitality and transportation sectors, Flohr noted.  Tourism Economics offers a solution to the efforts of destination marketing organizations such as Visit Wabash County and to industry associations that marries rigors methodology and compelling communication to raise the profile of tourism as an economic engine.

“The report accurately reflects how imperative the work of Visit Wabash County is and measures the success of our efforts,” said Flohr.  “Knowing that $53.6 million in visitor spending has funneled into our communities translates to economic success. Knowing that visitor spending increased from the previous year indicates that the work we are doing alongside of our partners is strengthening our county as a whole. I am very proud of that.”

The study was commissioned by Visit Wabash County in partnership with the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and conducted by Rockport Analytics, an independent market research and consulting company that specializes in economic impact and feasibility studies for the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry.

The study used estimates based on statistical sampling and economic modeling derived from multiple sources including Longwoods International, Reach market planning, and the U.S. commerce Department’s National Travel & Tourism Office.  It was then reconciled with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment data, Indiana Department of Revenue reported tax receipts and secondary sources such as Smith Travel Research.

In addition to the release of the results of the Economic Impact Study, Visit Wabash County also released its 2018 Annual Tourism Report.

The 2018 report reflects the following marketing, experience tours, and visitor services highlights:

  • Advertising campaign impressions totaled 7.2 million in 2018, which is comprised of cable TV commercials, digital, radio, print, and billboard campaigns.
  • Featured media coverage totaled 40 secured articles focused on Wabash County assets.
  • Hard copy distribution of the Wabash County Guide totaled 7,000 with digital views exceeding 100,000 impressions.
  • Nine outdoor displays were installed throughout Wabash and North Manchester
  • Four new gateway signs were installed in Wabash and North Manchester
  • Four interactive kiosk displays are deployed throughout Wabash County.
  • Trolley No. 85 operated for 23 public events for free. Overall, 3,600 people rode the trolley in 2018.
  • More than 13,000 people utilized the Welcome Center.
  • There are 33 Wabash County businesses that have merchandise for sale inside of the Welcome Center.

“The team and board of directors with Visit Wabash County create and execute an aggressive marketing action plan each year,” said Flohr.  “This plan is presented to the Wabash County Commissioners and the Mayor of Wabash. We are accountable to both government bodies and are pleased to once again to show such a high return of investment from their support.”

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