TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau collected $2.8 million from the innkeepers tax last year.

This is a record number for Vigo County and officials believe that this trend will continue.

THCVB Executive Director David Patterson said that besides 2020, which was heavily impacted by COVID-19, this is the 8th straight year of growth.

He said that the two largest players in that growth were the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course and The Mill. Patterson stated that both bring in tens of thousands of people each year.

“Fifty thousand people go through those gates through sixteen events which is pretty impressive,” Patterson said. “The Mill has been a great addition too, they’re up at around fifty thousand people per year.”

Patterson also said that the Terre Haute Convention Center played a large role in the success last year and things look promising again this year. He mentioned that the THCC has every weekend in November already booked.

“The addition of the convention center is really going to open up a number of possibilities,” Patterson said.

Patterson explained that Terre Haute is in a prime position in terms of location. Wedged between cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Louisville makes it vital to attract events from those locations to come here.

However, if events and people do chose to attend events here, Patterson stated that Vigo County needs more hotel rooms.

The county has south of 2,000 hotel rooms available. Patterson explained that beds can fill up quickly for the bigger events in the county and that some have to look at surrounding counties for lodging.

Increasing the number of hotel beds is something that Patterson wants to address this year.

“If they’re driving four hours to stay an hour away, that’s just not good business,” Patterson said. “They want to be here where the action is.”

Patterson said they’re already off to a hot start in 2023 as multiple events are scheduled early in the year that looks promising in producing more overnight stays.

He’s optimistic that they could hit $3 million in collections this year.

“I think we’ve got a shot at it,” Patterson said.

The tourism boom is having a positive impact on local business as well. Ambros Bar and Grill Owner Mark Whitehead is still relatively new to Wabash Avenue. He explained that he’s seeing new faces walk through daily.

“We’ve seen a lot of new faces, that it’s their first time being in and just coming through the town,” Whitehead said.