When it comes to tourism, business is booming in southern Indiana and in Daviess County. Radius Indiana's Tourism Index shows the eight-county region is outpacing other areas of the state in the overall vitality of the tourism industry sector.
The RTI is a new series of measurements to provide Radius with analytic tools that monitor the strength of the regional economy in southern Indiana.
"Radius is diving down and looking at what is working for tourism and where the growth is coming from," said Executive Director of the Daviess County Visitors Bureau Samantha Bobbitt. "They are focusing in on highlight of our area and what makes our area a destination of place."
Radius used data from a report published by Rockport Analytics, commissioned the the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, along with other economic factors to create a baseline for the region's tourism industry. The index tracks changes to key economic indicators like tourism jobs, wages, spending, tax receipts and the overall economic impact. It then compares them to the same data for the state as a whole.
The regional RTI score was 68.1 for the positive changes to the those key economic indicators over the last two years. The most significant change was a 13 percent increase in tourism spending. The score was bolstered by double digit increases in tourism jobs and tax receipts.
"The Rockport report gave us a complete snapshot of regional tourism and now the Radius Tourism Index gives us a good tool to begin tracking its growth," said Executive Director of the Dubois County Visitors Center and Tourism Commission Kevin Manley.
Daviess County officials say that in the past they have relied heavily on state reports to determine the impact of tourism on the area. Those numbers have shown a marked increase since 2012.
"In 2012, visitor spending in Daviess County supported 920 jobs and generated $18.5 million in labor income," said Bobbitt. "In 2014, the report indicated there were 930 jobs and tourism generated $19.3 million in labor income. The snapshot expenditures include lodging, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and retail."
One of the key positives of tourism is that it is almost always new money that is being brought into the community. The end result is more money being put into the local economy.
"Tourism as a whole in our county impacts 7 percent of the jobs," said Bobbitt. "If tourism did not exist in Daviess County, each of the 14,329 households in the county would have to pay $440 in additional taxes per year to maintain state and local tax levels."
Officials say tourism is the seventh largest industry in the area. It accounts for nearly 5,000 jobs in Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington counties. Radius officials say they intend to continue to track the tourism data to determine how the area is doing over time.
"From Rockport (Analytics Study) we learned that annual visitor spending total $271 million for our region and has an economic impact of $198-million for our eight counties -- monitoring this industry from year to year is vital to our understanding of the area's economic health and this very important economic sector," said President and CEO for Radius Indiana Jeff Quyle.
"I know that this added focus will only go to bolster our efforts in southwestern Indiana," added Bobbitt. "They are setting goals and introducing ideas of how we can continue to grow tourism and increase advertising efforts."
While southern Indiana showed a strong increase, the state of Indiana grew its tourism, but at a slower pace. Using the same key indicators the RTI for the state was 38.1.