Riding the Rails in Jasper, Indiana
Jasper is the county seat of Dubois County in southwestern Indiana. Recognized in Norm Crampton’s book, 100 Best Small Towns in America, Jasper was named the "25th Best Small Town" and "#1 in Indiana."
Recently, Jasper began passenger excursions on a restored historic railroad. The new Spirit of Jasper tourist train journeys from the Jasper Train Depot to French Lick, approximately 25 miles northeast of Jasper, for an evening of entertainment.  Guests ride in style on three beautifully renovated, climate-controlled lounge cars. The depot was constructed in 2004 as a replica of the former structure built in 1906.
Special “Ride & Dine” trips are offered to Dubois, 11 miles northeast of Jasper, and offer a full course meal catered by the Schnitzelbank, a locally owned authentic German restaurant. Both types of excursions have a cash bar available. 
“The Spirit of Jasper passenger cars have been restored by a staff of volunteer labor, City of Jasper employees, and generous local corporations and businesses that see their work as more a labor of love than a job,” said Kristen Ruhe, Executive Director of the Dubois County Visitors Center & Tourism Commission.
The Spirit of Jasper train is operated by the City of Jasper and is part of the overall planning effort of the non-profit organization ROJAC (Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition) to redevelop the “Old Jasper” district near the Patoka River.
 
Indiana and Antiques Make a Great Travel Pair
The PBS series Antiques Roadshow took antique lovers by storm when it was first introduced, but Indiana has long been known as an antique heaven. The Hoosier state is home to many of the Midwest's most unique and beautiful antique shops and shows that bring tourists into the state all year long.
Visitors travel from all over to experience Antique Alley in Wayne County, downtown Lafayette, and Indianapolis’ Fountain Square, or in dozens of small towns throughout the state, finding everything from vintage glassware and collectibles to fine furniture.
Whether it’s eyeing six-figure vintage cars in Auburn, or finding the last antique plate in a series at a super store in Edinburgh, the thrill of the hunt is what inspires most antique traveler afficianados. The web site TravelersAntiqueGuide.com lists almost 500 antique shops in the Hoosier State alone!
On-line auction sites don’t provide the kind of joy that an afternoon at the antique mall does for these travelers. At places like the Tri-State Antique Market, you can not only touch the item you’re thinking about purchasing, you can find out from the seller any background information on it and meet all kinds of others who share the same passion about these vintage items.
 
Travel Industry Gradually Recovering
Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) reports in an article by Chris Cares and David Belin, RRC Associates, that the “Travel Industry shows signs of gradual recovery.”
“There are signs of things getting better for the travel industry, but indications are that there is no quick fix to what the beleaguered economy brought upon the industry during the past 18 months. We anticipate a prolonged process of recovery that will extend through 2011,” the article said.
Predictions for full year 2010 are a year-over-year occupancy increase  of 1.9% to 55.8% percent, average daily rates will decrease  2.3% to US $95.45, and revenue per available room to end the year with a 0.5% decrease to US $53.22.
Indiana’s May STR report provides proof of travel heading in a positive direction. Occupancy in May was 54.7%, up from 2009’s May occupancy of 50.5%. Average Daily Rate (ADR) for hotel rooms is slipping still at $79.95 down from $81.26 in 2009, but revenue in May was up 8.1% due to demand being so high. Indiana room demand was up 9.8 % against additional rooms available for sale of 1.3 %, which means the demand for hotel rooms is outpacing supply.
What appears to be a big concern is the problem of delinquencies in hotels paying their innkeeper taxes. This issue has resulted in Henry County Convention and Visitors Bureau losing its paid professional staff. Susie Thompson reported that the last day for staff at the Henry County CVB was mid-June. The board plans on continuing the bureau with volunteers running the offices as best as are able. Henry is not the only county with this issue, but has suffered the worse delinquencies of any community across the state.
Indiana, like many other states, does look to be recovering slowly.  Indications are that travelers are tired of not traveling and looking to do some additional travel this summer and fall.
 
 Indiana Travel Fun Facts
Top 3 Reasons People Travel Indiana: Visiting Friends and Relatives, Getaway Weekend, Special Events
Top 3 Things People Like to do in Indiana: Watch Sports, Participate in Outdoor Recreation, Visit a Park or Scenic Area
Source: Indiana Office of Tourism Development
 
This monthly newsletter is produced by the Association of Indiana Convention and Visitors Bureaus to share information about Indiana's thriving tourism industry, which annually makes an annual direct economic impact of almost $6 billion. To ensure delivery of future newsletters, clickhere.

The Spirit of Jasper offers excursions from Jasper to French Lick.


Scouring Indiana's antique shops is a popular travel activity.


Indiana's travel industry is following the national trends.