Tourism leader stresses regionalism at Hobart chamber lunch

2013-09-11T22:30:00Z Tourism leader stresses regionalism at Hobart chamber lunchDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | Communities in the Calumet Region need to take a more regional approach when it comes to attracting commerce or visitors, Speros Batistatos said.

"We need to set aside differences," said Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority. He spoke Wednesday at the Hobart Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Batistatos agreed with chamber Executive Director Mike Adams that in the future Northwest Indiana will be composed of just a few regional chambers, which may even cross county lines.

"There are no iron walls to hold people in; boundaries are for governments," Batistatos said.

He said he is a typical region resident in that he lives in Gary, works in Hammond and travels to Crown Point to see his lawyer and other professionals.

"We are members of the region," Batistatos said.

In the same respect, those who visit Northwest Indiana don't pay attention to boundaries while eating at a restaurant in one community, spending the day at a water park in another and staying at a hotel in still another community, he said.

"I don't care where the visitor goes but how the guest sees the area," Batistatos said.

Batistatos also touched on having a regional tourism bureau composed of those in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

"In a large part it's already happened," Batistatos said.

He said there's strength in numbers because tourism dollars from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties amount to about $2.5 billion. Indianapolis tourism dollars amount to $3.5 billion.

"We are just as big as Indianapolis," Batistatos said.

Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said he agrees with Batistatos when it comes to a regional approach to attract tourism and new businesses.

"Visitors (couldn't) care less where city lines end. ... They want good transportation and a safe area," Snedecor said.

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