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Down the Lazy River

Southeastern Indiana tourism offices
pool resources for broader marketing

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(February 2007) – A collaborative marketing organization in southeast Indiana helps county tourism officials work together to better promote tourism in the area.
For the past 13 years, Down The Lazy River has helped develop area products, promote travel and attract the group tour market to the region. The organization members are the Madison Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Dearborn County Convention, Visitor & Tourism Bureau; Ripley County Tourism Bureau and the Rising Sun/Ohio County Convention & Tourism Bureau. Switzerland County, Ind., Convention & Visitors Bureau was a member through 2006 and still remains partners in several of the organization’s projects, including the Indiana Wine Trail.

Sally McWilliams

Sally McWilliams

Sally McWilliams, marketing coordinator for the organization, said the marketing efforts of the group are funded by the county partners through their individual marketing budgets. She said the group frequently does collaborative marketing projects as a way of maximizing their individual advertising dollars and creating a larger visual presence for the region.
An example of this type of collaboration would be the 3.5-page advertising spread the organization did for the 2007 Indiana Travel Guide, which is produced by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
Linda Lytle, executive director of Madison’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, said contributions are made project by project. She said if a county doesn’t want to be involved in a particular project, it doesn’t contribute financially.
Lytle said that for 10 years the organization devoted much of their efforts to developing product and marketing for motor coach itineraries, but it has branched out in the past three years to develop marketing aimed at leisure travel along rural areas. Much of the area in the five participating counties is rural.
McWilliams said that at present, the group’s main project is to develop and promote the Indiana Wine Trail, which it launched in May 2006. Lytle said the group is currently developing a plan to better promote the wine trail, which features several wineries throughout the five-county region and are in the “talking” stages of an arts trail for the area.
McWilliams explained the individual counties are involved in the new Artisan Trail through a group called the Ohio River Scenic Byway and the recent completion of a database of regional artists. She said the counties will be involved as the Byway’s project continues to develop. The first project schedule for Down The Lazy River pertaining to the Artisan Trail will be the creation of a new group tour itinerary, Indiana Artisan Trail Tour, which will focus on the art production and experience in the four-member counties.
Switzerland County Tourism Director David Attaway said his county would be interested in the Artisan Trail project.
McWilliams said the organization worked to create five new motor coach itineraries in the area last summer alone, including the Indiana Wine Trail Tour, the Red Hat Romp Tour, the Ohio River Mansions Tour, the Indiana Birding Trail Tour and the Indiana Underground Railroad Tour.

• For more information about Down The Lazy River projects or tours, visit: www.downthelazyriver.org. For more information about the Indiana Wine Trail, visit: www.indianawinetrail.com.

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