MICHIGAN CITY | A new theme to attract more tourists to Indiana and taking advantage of improved highways are strategies the state's tourism office is launching.
Mark Newman, the executive director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, said studies have proven that for every $1 spent by a tourist, $15 is created, and states that have cut budgets promoting tourism have seen huge losses in their revenue streams.
''We need to spend money to make money,'' Newman said.
He unveiled some new initiatives Thursday designed to boost tourism as the featured speaker at the Recognition of Service Excellence (ROSE) awards luncheon for Porter and LaPorte counties at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.
Newman said a new brand for the state is being developed by a panel consisting of representatives from business, government and citizens.
Its mission is to gather all the qualities and characteristics viewed favorably about Indiana to create a new brand or a slogan that all parts of the state can identify with and bring it to life for visitors.
Newman said the current brand, ''Restart Your Engines'' is fine, but it seems to represent just one area of the state.
Something new is needed that captures it all from the beauty of the Indiana Dunes in the northern part of the state to the ''allure'' of the Ohio River valley, he said.
He expects the new brand to be created early in 2014.
''It's a very time-consuming process, and we're going to get one time to do it right. So we want to make sure it's right,'' Newman said.
Newman also revealed an effort to reach out to people with more disposable income from large population centers such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville and even those within the state such as South Bend, Fort Wayne and Evansville.
Specifically, advertising in all forms is planned to get people from those areas interested in traveling the state.
The industry can then capitalize on new highways such as the Interstate 69 extension between Indianapolis and Evansville and improvements to U.S. 31 from South Bend to Indianapolis, he said.
Newman said with quicker and easier travel, tourists might want to venture to other parts of the state before returning home.
''We have an opportunity to create a tourism culture for our state which today we don't have because it's too hard to get around places,'' said Newman.
The luncheon was hosted by Indiana Dunes Tourism, which is the official tourism bureau of Porter County, and Visit Michigan City LaPorte Convention and Visitors Bureau.