GOSHEN — RVs, Amish food, the fair, Notre Dame games and quilt gardens helped bring in visitors spending $273 million with an impact of more than $400 million to Elkhart County last year, according to a study released Tuesday, Oct. 9, by the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
According to the study by Certec Inc., travel and tourism brought in $401.6 million, up $23 million over the previous study, which looked at 2009.
That figure includes the $273.1 million in direct expenditures plus the so-called “ripple effect” of spending by local people employed because of those tourism dollars.
“This growth in visitor spending is significant when you consider Elkhart County was in a deep economic recession in 2009,” said Diana Lawson, executive director of the convention and visitors bureau.
“These tourism dollars help support dozens of local businesses and impact banking, insurance, real estate, public utilities, construction, manufacturing and agriculture,” she said in the written announcement of the study’s results.
The variety of attractions in the county and having the Indiana Toll Road run through the county are key to bringing in tourists, according to the bureau.
“Our destination’s events and festivals are also important contributors to Elkhart County’s tourism industry,” Lawson said.
Both the bureau’s quilt gardens and the Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival were recently designated Top 100 Events in North America for 2013 by the American Bus Association, the bureau said. Having two events from one county is unusual, even more so when each event has made that list five times, according to the bureau.
“It makes a positive statement about the quality of our destination’s tourism product when Elkhart County’s events are continually recognized for their excellent entertainment value and potential to generate tourism dollars,” Lawson said.