Tourism officials in northwestern Indiana are looking for ways to build on a fledgling recovery after being hit hard by the recession.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore set a record for visitors last year, and a new Blue Chip Casino hotel and the addition of a boat race have helped. But Speros Batistatos of the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority says the region needs something to increase demand and occupancy.
Batistatos proposes a multi-use facility that could host conventions, trade shows and sporting events. He says a local sales tax on food and beverages might be a way to pay for it.
The Times of Munster reports the number of visitors for youth events alone in the region fell from nearly 71,000 in 2009 to under 27,000 in 2010.