Listen Live

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill aimed at enhancing tourism in the state passed the Indiana House Tuesday.

The bill written by State Rep. Mike Karickhoff, a Republican from Kokomo, would create a joint public-private partnership agency to replace the existing Office of Tourism Development. That plan is the recommendation of the a study by the Indiana Tourism Task Force, which was established by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017.

“Tourism is a big deal but across the board, nationally, we only get a very small slice of the tourism pie,” Karickhoff to Inside Indiana Business. “They came with the recommendation to change the Indiana Office of Tourism Development into a quasi public-private agency.”

The study included input from industry experts from hotels, restaurants, attractions and more that identified what the state is doing well, what it could do better, and what opportunities are in place to improve tourism statewide.

Karickhoff says, if the bill is approved, the Indiana Destination Development Corp. would assume all of the IOTD’s responsibilities and be responsible for marketing and attracting more visitors to the state.

He says the corporation would align the state’s dollars with private dollars, increasing collaboration and communication.

“Businesses and communities throughout Indiana are experiencing tremendous economic growth thanks to a boost in record tourism from both in-and out-of-state visitors,” Karickhoff said. “To continue this momentum, input from businesses and tourism professionals would help Indiana provide the state’s tourism industry the support it needs and ensure resources are distributed appropriately.”

If the bill is signed into law, the transition to the new organization would not take place until July 2020.

Indiana saw 80 million visitors in 2017 and tourism generated $1.4 billion in state and local taxes. A recect report from state tourism experts said total visitor spending in 2017 reached $12.7 billion, creating $9 billion in economic impact.