The executive director of the Indiana Tourism Association says a record number of people will attend this week's Indiana Tourism Conference in Hendricks County. The conference, which runs through Wednesday, will include tourism industry professionals and representatives of tourist attractions throughout the state. Carrie Lambert says the event provides an opportunity for attendees to hone their skills on marketing, sales and public relations in an effort to better engage visitors.

In an interview with Inside Indiana Business, Lambert said the goal of the conference is to make sure attendees have the educational opportunity they need to help their communities. "I hope people walk away with some new ideas, some new contacts across the state that they can talk to (and) reach out to throughout the year and a renewed excitement for what our industry is about and really all we have to offer across the state."

In addition to the various speakers and workshops this week, the conference will also present the Indiana Tourism Awards Tuesday evening, which will be emceed by Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick.

Lambert says the Indiana Tourism Association runs on a parallel track to the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. She says her organization focuses on professional development and advocacy for the tourism industry in the state. She says a bill going through the Indiana General Assembly that would transition the IOTD into a quasi public-private agency called the Indiana Destination Development Corp. is very exciting, along with other bills.

"There's other bills that are talking about how we can make sure that we're collecting the right amount of innkeepers and sales tax on the online travel companies that are out there," said Lambert. "We're leaving money on the table because those businesses are not actually paying Indiana what they owe, so most of the bills that are happening right now that are tourism-related are exciting."