WRITTEN BY: Allison Tunstall - On Wednesday afternoon, the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority invited local businesses, restaurants, and community leaders to the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond to celebrate and raise awareness for the importance of tourism in a beautiful and thriving community like Northwest Indiana.

The annual Tourism Luncheon, which is held during National Travel and Tourism Week, welcomed almost 200 people from all around the region to raise awareness of tourism and travel and how it affects the region’s economy.

“This luncheon is a perfect way to celebrate the 35th annual National Travel and Tourism Week,” said Erika Dahl, Director of Communications for the South Shore CVA. “It raises awareness for the importance of travel and the economy. It is our time as a CVA to champion tourism to our local community.”

The South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority emphasizes the unique and beautiful things the South Shore has to offer, like family owned restaurants, antiques, historic towns, and plenty of outdoor attractions that is fun for all ages. By focusing on what Northwest Indiana has to offer to visiting families, local businesses and the community benefit from the attention and the economic boom.

“Tourism is a huge economic driver, but sadly it doesn’t get as much attention as it should as an economic engine in a community,” Dahl said. “Visitors come here and they put so much money into the community. The average traveler will spend around $250 a day, and that’s everything from gas, to food, souvenirs, attractions, and so much more. They’re spending in our community which is so important.”

The luncheon hosted people from all over the community, including a number of local restaurants to provide a delicious lunch for guests. Businesses like Fair Oaks Farm, Doc’s Smokehouse of Dyer, and Chicagoland Popcorn of Merrillville were just a few of the local businesses adding their own signature flavor to the luncheon and showing everyone just what the “Taste of the South Shore” had to offer.