Diana Lawson, Director of Elkhart County
Convention & Visitors Bureau,
Spoke to the Club
Visiting Rotarians were: Doug Grant, Mike Crabill & Moe Jacobson.
Guests were: Mark Dobson guest, of Sherm Hansen; Bryan Blaine, guest of  Mike Christepheno; Suzie Weirich, guest of Tony Warning; and Steve Gruber, guest of Judge Jim Rieckhoff.
There was a “snafu” for Sergeant at Arms, so Peter Norton, with United Cancer Services of Elkhart County, stepped up to the “plate”. In spite of not being prepared, he did a great job of collecting fines. The money the Sergeant’s Committee raises over the year is pooled into a fund and then disbursed annually to area non-profit organizations.
Mick Faloon gave a PSA regarding the importance of having a pulse oximeter in your medicine cabinet. Mick recently went to the ER because of o2 blood clots in his lungs. While once quite expensive, they now cost around $20 and the pulse oximeter saved his life.
The speaker was Honorary Member Diana Lawson from the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Diana said she usually likes to talk about projects but today she wanted to talk more about WHO IS the Convention & Visitors Bureau. Well, they are a champion for tours and industry in the community.  They are “place based” and want people to be advocates to welcome business.
Diana talked about growth in Elkhart and said the lodging tax (currently 5%) generates $1.7 million today compared with $47,000 generated when the tax was first established 35 years ago.  There are currently 2500 hotel rooms in Elkhart County up from 900 rooms. It is important to note that this tax money is NOT paid by the hotels but is paid by VISITORS.
The hospitality industry is doing very well in Elkhart County right now. Some interesting numbers presented were:
  • There are over ½ million room nights sold in Elkhart County in a year
  • There are 700 partners/small businesses who spend $750,000 to put the word out about Elkhart County
  • Visitor spending (as of 2013) was at $294,000,000 up significantly from 2011.
  • OVER 1,000 Motor Coaches come to our destinations each year.
We want to promote “Quality of Place” attractions – encourage our residents to value quality of place.  Elkhart has several attractions to offer starting with AMISH Country.  The Das Dutchman Essenhaus is the largest restaurant in Indiana.  Additional attractions include Wellfield Botanical Gardens and the Lerner Theater, the Midwest Museum of American Art and Ruthmere. With Heritage Trail and Pumpkinvine, we can also promote outdoor activity, which is so important today. Let’s also promote Exit #92 – the #1 exit along the Indiana Toll Road. While all these things are wonderful, what is MOST important about Elkhart County is our huge volunteer program because our people love their community and get involved. They care and they want to be a part of it.
For more information visit: http://www.go-indiana.com/Elkhart-County-Convention-and-Visitors-Bureau-IN/