New tourism leader in So. Indiana making changes. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New tourism leader in So. Indiana making changes.

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- New leadership means new ideas for promoting tourism in southern Indiana.

It is the first time in 30 years that the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau is under new leadership.

Longtime executive director Jim Keith retired at the end of 2013.

Jim Epperson is the new executive director. For 11 years, he headed up the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"The industry and the way we market to visitors continues to change," Epperson told WDRB News on Friday.

He says under his direction the bureau will promote the region with more emphasis on the Web and social media.

"Print is not dead, but we really need to beef up digital," Epperson said.

Epperson wants to keep the visitors coming -- visitors like University of Florida geology professor Paul Ciesielski, who on Friday was leading 25 of his students on a tour of the Falls of the Ohio. The fossils and the interpretive center are among the most popular tourists attractions in southern Indiana.

"I like to bring them here even when the river is high," said Ciesielski. "You can still see some of the fossil beds."

The most recent economic impact study by the tourism bureau says visitors spend $245 million a year in Clark and Floyd Counties.

Epperson says the revitalization of both downtown New Albany and downtown Jeffersonville should bring in even more travelers and convention visitors.

"When you get this critical mass of great restaurants, great retail, even some nightspots, those become the kind of thing we can market," explained Epperson.

He says the more tourists who come to the region, the stronger the economic development.

"For Jeffersonville, the shot in the arm is going to be the opening of the Big Four Bridge because a lot of businesses are investing in downtown Jeff in preparation for that," said Epperson.

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