SSCVA helps drive Region economy through tourism

SSCVA helps drive Region economy through tourism

The folks over at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (SSCVA) have been hard at work bringing tourism into the Region during the pandemic. The SSCVA specializes in putting together places for those who are visiting the Region from across the country. Erika Dahl, Director of Communications at SSCVA, promotes tourism across the five counties that comprise the South Shore.

“When promoting the South Shore to visitors, we promote the entire South Shore, which is a five-county region,” Dahl said. “We know a visitor will travel outside of county lines to see or do what interests them, paying no attention to what city or county they are in.”

Tourism along the South Shore brought in $695 million into Lake County’s economy in 2018 alone. The hospitality and tourism industry is a vital part of the Region’s economy. According to a 2018 study, for every dollar spent by tourists in Lake County, 71 cents went to local businesses. Having a high rate of money spent on local businesses is vital to keeping the economy in the Region booming.

The traffic that comes into the South Shore (many from busses that take tourists to the parks, breweries, and restaurants across the five counties) create countless jobs in the hospitality and restaurant industry.

“There’s so much more to the South Shore than just the beach,” Dahl said. “When we have people come in that are visiting the area, shopping at local businesses can be a huge source of business for local restaurants and breweries.”

The SSCVA is a destination marketing organization (DMO). Typically, a DMO promotes leisure travel, conventions, groups, conferences, and sporting events. One of the biggest markets of SSCVA’s business model is called a motorcoach, which is when a busload of people who are usually traveling from out-of-state towards Chicago make stops along the South Shore to shop, eat, and take in the welcoming atmosphere of Northwest Indiana.

“Being in such close proximity to Chicago, we have a lot of motorcoaches coming in from all over,” Dahl said. “We create an itinerary for them, and the bus will make three or four stops in one city and then move onto the next. We generally promote our destinations as an affordable, family-friendly environment.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic essentially shutting down most large gatherings, conventions, etc., Dahl noticed a unique trend amongst travelers this past summer.

“We learned a lot this summer that people are traveling differently than ever before,” Dahl said. “We saw more people going to national parks like the Dunes. Camping saw a surge in popularity as well. Vacation rentals such as Airbnbs are popular as well due to people not necessarily wanting to stay in a hotel. We have a lot to offer tourists in this area.”

Dahl’s day-to-day routine fluctuates. Her primary focus is to communicate with travel writers, agencies, and promote the various services offered by SSCVA. For over 10 years, Dahl has helped bring tourists to explore the beauty of the Region that is often overlooked by those who aren’t from around the area.

“I hate the term ‘hidden gem,’” Dahl said. “But I do think there’s so much beauty in this area just in the parks alone. You have to experience the diverse culture of this area to appreciate it. You hike on the trails, and you’ll see endangered species of animals, flora, and fauna. There’s dunes, wetlands, and bogs. The geography of this area is very unique. After that, you can drive down the street to a brewery, see a botanical garden, then make your way to the Mascot Hall of Fame. Everything around here is just a short drive away.”

To learn more about the SSCVA, go to