I have had the privilege of serving as the Executive Director of the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau for the past 23 years. I have met some amazing people traveling through our community. Some are here to support their favorite athletes, attend our many wonderful festivals, or stop on their way to another destination simply to rest, eat at one of our many restaurants or shop at our retail offerings. Memories of Colts Camp, hovercraft races with competitors from 19 countries, motorsport competitions, musical performances, and many athletic contests including two of my favorites; Special Olympics and National College Cross Country races.
Although the memories give me personal motivation, the numbers are what drive my decisions for tourism in Terre Haute and Vigo County. With a wonderful staff of co-workers and a supportive Board of Directors, we all strive to drive people to our community and enhance the vision and efforts of the local people who create or are involved with all of these wonderful events.
We have grown every year since 1995. Last year alone, we experienced 130,000 visitors to our community and we expect to see those numbers grow considerably more in 2018/19 with the addition of the World Class Terre Haute Airshow. New offerings on the horizon such as the Griffin Bike Park, the new Quarter Midget Facility or celebrating the creation of the Coca Cola bottle are just a few of the new attractions that will continue to let us grow.
Did you know we have approximately 3,400 employees in the tourism and/or retail-based industries in Vigo County? Today, we celebrate a $40 million tourism industry in Terre Haute and Vigo County, and in 2017, received a little over $2 million in innkeeper’s tax revenue at a 6.5% rate.
As the numbers continue to grow and the quality of life programs continue to increase, the future looks very bright. Today, I am grateful for a group of leaders who continue to fight for a convention center. I know the opportunities because I often have to turn them down. Without a convention center we are limited to what we can do. I’m for a convention center because I’m for welcoming more people to Terre Haute/Vigo County. I’m for more visitors because I believe they support our small businesses. I support small businesses because I believe they're the backbone of our economy. The numbers tell the story.
David A. Patterson is the Executive Director of the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau