The tourism industry is alive and growing in Indiana’s Kosciusko County. Visitor spending brings cash to our communities, creates jobs, enhances the local economy and improves the quality of life for residents.

Tourism: An Economic Driver

Economic Impact of Tourism and Travel

Local

Research conducted in 2015 by the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau (KCCVB) concluded a $162.2 visitor spending economic impact.

$184.5 million was contributed by visitors to the Kosciusko County economy in 2017. Visitors from 15 different states were identified in the 2017 research.

  • The local tourism industry generated over 2,000 jobs and $36.8 million in wages
  • Tourism industry generated over $44.1 million in tax revenues with $8.6 million locally.

State

There is no denying that tourism matters in Indiana.

  • Indiana destinations welcomed a record 80 million visitors (A 1.3% increase over the previous year).
  • Visitors spend a record $12.7 billion in Indiana, a 3.7% increase year-over-year.
  • Tourism is responsible for 5% of all Indiana jobs.
  • Indiana visitors generate enough state and local taxes to pay for 26,000 public school teachers.
  • Tourism saves Hoosiers money by saving an average of $561 in state and local taxes per household.

Destination Summary of Kosciusko County in the Travel Industry

Kosciusko County is a visitor destination with abundant destination drivers. This is both a strength and a weakness. It is a weakness because the destination drivers are scattered throughout the county therefore causing lack of critical mass. You’d have a complete destination with an established sense of place that would attract visitors and developers from the Midwest if one were able to collect the features that are attractive to visitors into one community. As a strength, Kosciusko County is made up of several different moments for visitors to experience in different communities therefore the visitor economic impact benefits more than one community. The mix of travel assets is valuable in positioning K-County and its communities in drawing a range of visitors. The opportunity challenge is in fully representing these destination drivers in marketing communications. We count on visitors to travel between communities to encompass a complete image of our destination and overall sense of place.

Strategic Planning

The Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors established their strategic plan for 2018 – 2020 noting 18 priority initiatives to be completed. Strategic initiatives fall into the following pillars of activity:

Mission Focus

  • Drive New and/or Current Visitor Demand
  • Enhance the Visitor Experience
  • Communicate Organization Relevancy and Viability

Our Strategic Goals

  • Deploy Effective Destination Marketing, Sales and Services Programs
  • Facilitate Impactful Destination Development
  • Undertake Influential KCCVB Stakeholder Relations and Advocacy
  • Perform Required KCCVB Resources Development and Administration

Destination Marketing

The focus of the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau is to drive more visitors to its county communities through an overall destination marketing communications support effort and a seven-target market strategy approach. Efforts in destination marketing by the KCCVB has a county-wide impact in addition to complimenting marketing efforts by industry partners in the destination. KCCVB has four targeted strategies for the leisure travel market and three for the group market.

Overall Marketing Approach and Target Markets

KCCVB’s 2020 marketing approach in meeting strategic priority initiatives is designed to be organized, efficient, targeted and results oriented. It focuses on integrating new methods and discovering which tactics work best.

Based on Kosciusko County’s environment and assets as a destination in the travel industry, the following travel markets have been identified for the KCCVB’s efforts in consumer marketing and servicing:

Leisure Market

  • Outdoor recreation and adventure travel
  • Arts, cultural and heritage events travel
  • Shopping and food travel
  • Visiting friends and relatives (VFR), business and pass-thru travel

Group Market

  • Group Tours
  • Small Meetings
  • Sports Events

Geo Marketing Target Area – Leisure

  • 59-mile radius from Warsaw – Limit advertising in this area to residents, business, and VFR markets
  • 60 – 200-mile radius from Warsaw – The target zone for placing advertising/media buys.
  • 201+ miles from Warsaw – Limited advertising in this area

Visitor Profile

Visitor profile research helps us know the big picture of who our visitors are, where they are from, and what they are doing while they are visiting the destination. It is the process of getting to know our visitors and their individual behaviors to drive consumer marketing. This research is conducted at the State, region, and local levels.

The Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau, as a member of the Indiana Tourism Association (ITA), invested in a collaborative initiative with other State of Indiana visitor bureaus to engage in regional visitor profile research for the data year of 2018. Regional visitor profile data is valuable as it allows us to see the big picture of the tourism industry by region in the State of Indiana. Longwoods International is the travel market research firm that conducted the regional study.

The KCCVB hopes to strategically invest in visitor profile research specific to Kosciusko County in 2021. The objectives of this research are:

  • Examine visitor types, trip duration, activity participation, and party composition.
  • Determine the revenues our conversion efforts generated – Who spent what and where; What was the average spend per visiting group; where did they spend it; and how much overall revenue was generated?
  • Assess the use and usefulness of the internet in general and VisitKosciuskoCounty.org in particular.
  • Review our Net Promoter Score – Does the Visit Kosciusko County experience continue to generate word-of-mouth recommendations?
  • Determine the conversion rate for those exposed to Kosciusko County marketing efforts – How effective have our marketing efforts been in turning potential visitors into actual visitors, and how does the online channel contribute?

All Encompassing Role of Visitor Attraction

Visitors can contribute to the local economy in more than one way. In addition to creating jobs, increasing tax revenue, and pushing dollars into local attractions, restaurants, shops, and many cross business sectors, visitors often become residents. Visitors often become part of the county’s workforce. The travel industry presents opportunities to grow the workforce and increase contributing members of our communities. The amount of investment in visitor attraction has the potential to be far reaching with broad benefit to development of place.

A widely applied and respected quote in the travel industry comes from Maura Gast, an industry leadership veteran of the Irving Visitors Bureau in Texas.

“If we build a place where people want to visit, we’ll build a place where people want to live. And, if we build a place where people want to live, we will build a place where people want to work. And, if we build a place where people want to work, we will build a place where business has to be. And, if we build a place where business has to be, we’ll be back to building a place where people have to visit. It all starts with a Visit.”

 – Maura Gast

Inn Keeper’s Tax

The Inn Keeper’s Tax is a pass-through tax collected from overnight guests by the party renting accommodations in Kosciusko County. The party then submits the tax collected to the Kosciusko County Treasurer or the Indiana Department of Revenue. Kosciusko County is under the Indiana Code for “Uniform” County Innkeeper’s Tax rate of 5% as are most counties in Indiana. The Kosciusko County Innkeeper’s Tax is used to promote and/or encourage conventions, visitors and tourism within the county.

View the Indiana Code on Inn Keeper’s Tax (IC -6 -9 -18)

Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission

The Kosciusko County Convention, Recreation, Visitor Commission (“Tourism Commission”) is an appointed seven-member entity created by the Kosciusko County Commissioners. They are tasked with the oversight of the proper disbursement of the collected Inn Keeper’s Tax funds which are designated for promoting conventions, visitors, and tourism in Kosciusko County.

The KCCVB annually requests budget funding as the official destination organization in Kosciusko County.

The Tourism Commission and the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau are actively engaged with one another as travel industry partners dedicated to the greatest benefit of destination marketing and development to Kosciusko County.

Tourism Commission Members

Tammy Kratzer, President
Jo Paczkowski, Vice President
John Hall, Treasurer
David Gustafson, Secretary
Mark Skibowski, Member
Ron Robinson, Member
Kathy Ray, Member

The Tourism Commission encourages grant applications for consideration from nonprofit Kosciusko County organizations who are stakeholders in the tourism industry.

See Convention, Recreation, Visitor Commission’s Website and grant applications