South Shore CVA Celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week with Annual Tourism Luncheon

South Shore CVA Celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week with Annual Tourism Luncheon

Longtime Region residents often point to how diverse and dynamic the area is as one of their favorite aspects of living here. That dynamism also makes Northwest Indiana something of a tourism hotspot, which the South Shore Convention and Visitor’s Authority Celebrated with their annual Summer Luncheon on Wednesday.

Held at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, the annual event brings together local businesses, officials, and community leaders during National Travel and Tourism Week. Starting last year, the South Shore CVA shifted the event from a more traditional luncheon, to a buffet featuring restaurants and other food from around the Region.

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“This is one time that a lot of our business leaders, elected officials, and other people from the hospitality industry can come together and talk about the importance of tourism and visitor spending,” said Erika Dahl, Director of Communications for the South Shore CVA. “We welcome a lot of people to the area, maybe with their families or maybe coming to a brewery, but we welcome visitors every day. Some people might not recognize that they’re visitors because they dress and look just like us.”

Those “tasting their way along the South Shore” enjoyed food from Fair Oaks Farms, Doc’s Smokehouse, Strack & Van Til, ChicagoLand Popcorn, and more. With nearly two dozen breweries, unique restaurants, dining opportunities and more, the Region is packed with food tourism attractions. But there is plenty more that makes it an outstanding place to visit, according to Whiting’s Mayor Joe Stahura.

“The tourism industry’s been around for a long time, but cities and towns are finding new ways to capitalize and bring people to their communities and that’s what this event is all about,” said Stahura. “With the assets we have here on the South Shore, and the South Shore CVA, it’s a great team and we’ll find even more ways to capitalize in the future.”

The event’s keynote speaker, David Rendall, gave a presentation titled “The Freak Factor,” which was all about celebrating people’s uniqueness by embracing weakness. He’s a prolific speaker, having addressed crowds on every inhabited continent, and is the author of four books. His theme about embracing individuality resonated well with an audience looking to draw people in to their unique attractions.

“The main message is showing people that they have hidden strengths that not only do they not see, but have other people define as negatives,” said Rendall. “If they could use those weaknesses as strengths on their own, as parents, in their work, or in their business, they could be more successful.”

While the event celebrated past success, it also looked into the future with South South Shore CVA President and CEO Spero Batistatos’ announcement of a one to two week long cleanup of I-65. Visitors and Region residents alike have a lot to look forward to in the year ahead. To learn more about the South Shore CVA, as well as the restaurants and attractions across the Region, visit