A bill aimed at enhancing the state's tourism industry is heading to Governor Eric Holcomb's desk. House Enrolled Act 1115 will create the Indiana Destination Development Corp., a quasi public-private agency that will replace the existing Office of Tourism Development. The transition to the new organization is not set to take place until July 2020.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, State Representative Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo), who authored the bill, said the bill allows Indiana to leverage public dollars with private dollars, similar to other agencies like the Indiana Economic Development Corp. 

"Because really, tourism is an industry and it's an important part of our economic development in Indiana and we're really underutilizing it," said Karickhoff. "We're not using it. We're not capturing as much of those tourism dollars as perhaps we should. I think private business is hesitant to pay money into a state agency without a seat at the table, without policy makers that are part of the decision-making process to deploy their resources and so this bill really sets up how the oversight board is going to deploy those resources. It spells out who's going to be on the Destination Development Board of Directors. It has private sector participation and that's a big change as opposed to being strictly an executive branch agency."

Once the bill is signed into law, it will begin the transition period to the Destination Development Corp. Karickhoff says that period will include the appointment of a new board of directors and establishing the particulars for the new organization. The board will have seven members, including the governor or their designee, the president of the IEDC or its designee, and five members appointed by the governor from the private sector tourism industry.

The Indiana Destination Development Corp. would be the fourth quasi public-private agency for the state, along with the IEDC, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Karickhoff says the transition to the new organization could lead to even further tourism growth throughout the state.

A report recently released by the IOTD says total visitor spending throughout the state in 2017 reached a record high of $12.7 billion, creating $9 billion in economic impact. 

Tourism will the focus on a special edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick this weekend. You can find more about when the show will air by clicking here.