Terre Haute tourism decreases due to COVID-19 pandemic

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV0– Several museums, festivals and local events have experienced closures and cancellations as result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Terre Haute tourism revenue decreased by 50 percent since the pandemic began.

David Patterson, Executive Director for Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau said they’ve seen consistent growth for the past 25 years.

“March 13th, it kind of shut off. We’ve had somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 events cancelled for the year so it’s significant,” he said.

Patterson said  it’s been a trying time for non-profits and local museums that rely on tourists.

“All non-profits are hurting because of the lack of visitation and the lack of travel for everyone involved. They’re all just holding on for better days,” Patterson noted.

Local museum directors say they’re doing what they can to stay open during the pandemic like limiting their hours.

“It’s very important for us to be open but also finding that balance because we are trying to conserve funds because there are less funds coming in right now and still being available to our public,” said Leah Simpson, Executive Director at Candles Holocaust Museum.

“We run a business here. We have to have revenue coming in because we have a lot of expenses coming out. So between admission, sales in our soda shop, museum store and event space rental plus memberships bring in enough revenue to support the museum on its own without having to rely on donations and events,” said Susan Tingley, Executive Director at the Vigo Co. Historical Museum.

Simpson said museums are needed to continue showcasing the community’s culture. 

“We have to have these cultural locations, continued places to learn. We do have the internet but it’s not the same coming in meeting somebody, touching things depending on the museum, and being able to interact. They are important pieces to every community and especially Terre Haute.”

Both Candles Museum and the Vigo Co. Historical Museum are offering virtual events and tours.

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