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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tour industry steady despite gas prices

Friday, September 29, 2006

Despite all the doomsday theorists predicting that skyrocketing gasoline prices would cause the death of the American travel industry, local tourism dollars have remained steady and are expected to rise through the end of the year.

Putnam County Convention and Visitor's Bureau Director Karla Lawless told members of the tourism board this week that revenues generated by local hotels this year are poised to meet or exceed previous ones.

When the bureau began collecting the local Innkeeper's Tax back in 1991, it drew just under $70,000 that year.

Last year, the bureau received $213,452 in Innkeeper's Tax and has collected just over $145,000 so far this year.

"That's a lot of money with 450 rooms," Lawless said of the county's combined hotel rooms.

Higher revenues mean the bureau has money to spend on various brochures and promotions that help draw tourists -- and more importantly, tourist dollars -- to Putnam County.

Lawless told the board that the bureau is poised to run out of brochures before the end of the year and requested more needed to be ordered.

At the same time, tourism officials are looking with anticipation to nearby Parke County's annual Covered Bridge Festival set to begin Oct. 13 and run through Oct. 22.

The festival which draws thousands of visitors from around the Midwest means increased business for Putnam County's hotels, Lawless said. She said the bureau intends to capitalize on this once again by advertising to vendors at the festival and tourists who come looking for a place to stay.

Meanwhile, Lawless said she doesn't know why tourists have seemed unscathed by the higher prices at the pump. But she's not complaining.

"Even when gas was $3, they were still traveling," Lawless said. "I still see a lot of people traveling out there."

Walk-in business, or people who stop by the bureau on the south side of the Greencastle square, has also remained high.

As recently as two weeks ago, tourists stopped in from California, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, Missouri and Oregon. Most come to see covered bridges, while others come for to see the Buzz Bomb or check out what nature has to offer.

"They are from just everywhere," Lawless said with a slight chuckle. "I mean it's just really amazing."

The tourism board meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the CVB office.

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