The tourism and travel industry added nearly $124.9 million to LaGrange County’s economy in 2011, according to a report issued by Certec Inc. this week. The study was performed for the LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Board of Directors.
Direct expenditures by tourists accounted for $89.4 million of the total. Direct expenditures were $43.8 million in 1998, according to the report.
The tourism industry generated $5.8 million in local tax dollars in 2011 compared to $2.8 million in 1998.
Local residents spend an additional $7.3 million with the local tourism industry. A total of 1,583 jobs in the county resulted from tourism. Over one-third of those jobs were in high wage occupations. These jobs generated $25 million in wages to LaGrange County workers compares to $13 million in 1998.
Shopping, food and beverage, and lodging purchases accounted for nearly four out of every five dollars spent. These expenditures by industry sector reflect the importance of the lodging and attraction sector of the local tourism industry. Two-thirds of all direct spending was from these two sectors, according to the report.
The report points out that only the spending of non-LaGrange County residents is included in the company’s research unless noted and contributed to local spending, taxes generated, etc.
It is interesting to note that destination travelers to LaGrange County totaled an estimated 1,463,742 in 2011. In addition some 372,920 pass-through travelers visited the county.
The typical visitor to the county is most likely to be a college graduate (63.1 percent); one in four have attended college but not yet graduated (24.6 percent); most likely to be working and in a professional job (40 percent). One in four is retired (27.7 percent).
The destination tourism business LaGrange County enjoys is either a short trip (69.2 percent) of one to three nights in length or on a day trip (21.5 percent). Over nine out of ten of the visitors interviewed were on one of these two trip types. Nearly one-half of these travelers to LaGrange County are on their first trip to the county. The typical travel party has 4.1 people and stays an average 1.8 days.
The most visited attractions by those interviewed were the craft and antique shops/Amish shops, Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant, Splash Universe, Menno Hof Amish-Mennonite Story, and general Amish attractions.
The most frequently mentioned activities that visitors participated in while in LaGrange County were swimming/mini golf, shopping, dining, Blue Gate Theater, and visiting.
Certec Inc. utilizes a bottom-up research approach. The company utilizes information collected directly from tourists and tourism businesses rather than extracting information from business data which was initially collected for a purpose other than the analysis of the county’s tourism industry.