Visitors to Cass County pumped about $11.3 million into the area’s economy in 2012, according to a new report from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
The economic impact report studied the role of tourism in Indiana’s economy and took a closer look at Cass County and 39 other counties to determine the effects of visitor spending. According to the report, tourism-related spending accounted for about $10 billion in revenues for businesses across the state.
Visitor spending supported 219 local jobs and $4.5 million in total wages and proprietor income for those employees, according to the Cass County Visitors Bureau summary of the report.
In Cass County, visitors spent more in 2012 on lodging, recreation and entertainment, but slightly less in the food and beverage and retail categories, according to a release from the Cass County Visitors Bureau.
The report indicated visitor spending amounted to:
• $2.8 million spent on lodging
• $3.7 million on food and beverage
• $3.4 million on shopping
• $40,000 on entertainment and recreation
• $1 million on transportation.
About 95 cents of every dollar stayed local, too, the report noted.
“This is the first one the state has done in at least five years,” said Toni Savini, Cass County Visitors Bureau executive director. Across Indiana, about 76 cents of every dollar stayed in-state, according to a summary of the report published by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
Savini said the report didn’t address why a greater proportion of visitor spending stayed in Cass County than the state average, but suggested it could be because major recreational facilities are owned by the county.
The report defined visitors as those traveling from at least 50 miles away for a trip that’s not part of their routine, or those coming for an overnight stay, according to the IOTD press release.
France Park and youth sports are two of the biggest draws to the area, Savini said based on her experience. The visitors bureau is currently in talks with France Park director Lucas Beach to promote the park’s zip line, which was installed this summer.
The bureau is looking to exploit the growing market for outdoor recreation in other ways, too. A map of the county’s bike routes — including the Panhandle Pathway and Little Turtle Waterway, among others — is due to be released sometime in January.
“I do think that 2014 looks really promising,” Savini said, “and with the trail system that we’ve got established in the county now, along with France Park, I think there’s a lot of great things happening.”
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME