The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, based in Hammond, has been operating well beyond the Lake County border, bringing business to all of Northwest Indiana.
Now it has signed a $2,500-a-month contract with the Jasper County Tourism Commission to drive tourism there. That's a closer tie than elsewhere, because it's an official connection, not just an agreement with businesses who expect and get results from the South Shore CVA.
This is the direction tourism efforts in Northwest Indiana should be heading.
"Northwest Indiana is very unique. By building this partnership, visitors can obtain information on a multitude of experiences available throughout the region," said South Shore CVA Chairman Vic DeMeyer.
The South Shore CVA promised to develop a brand for the outdoorsy Jasper County, including a logo and slogan, and will maintain Jasper County's tourism website.
This is what should happen throughout Northwest Indiana.
Political turf wars shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of doing business — putting heads in beds and cheeks in seats, as the oft-quoted saying goes — in the tourism industry.
Yet personality clashes have been allowed to trump good public policy.
The tourism agencies in Porter and LaPorte counties stay in their respective boundaries, but the South Shore CVA operates throughout the region. As a sponsor of men's basketball at Valparaiso University, for example, South Shore CVA President and CEO Speros Batistatos often presents the game ball at the start of home games.
Duplicate agencies duplicate efforts and weaken the effectiveness of a single agency that would promote tourism for the entire region.
What the South Shore CVA is doing for Jasper County is a start toward developing the regional tourism organization Northwest Indiana needs.