West Beach at Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is the most popular tourist destination in the Hoosier State. The Indiana Destination Development Corp. recently received a $5.6 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration to spur increased hospitality industry hiring and help attract more visitors to Indiana.

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The federal government is providing Indiana's tourism management agency a booster shot of cash to help revive the state's travel and tourism industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indiana Destination Development Corp. (IDDC) recently received a $5.6 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration to spur increased hospitality industry hiring and attract more visitors to the state.

The National Park designation and then the coronavirus pandemic have driven record tourism this spring to the Indiana Dunes, already Northwest Indiana's top tourism draw and one of the Hoosier State's most visited attractions.

"These funds allow IDDC to help enhance the quality of life here in our great state," said Republican Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. "By investing in marketing, we can boost the leisure and travel-related industry, which is crucial to our economy."

Altogether, the Commerce Department awarded $314 million in grants to 34 states and Washington, D.C., based on employment loss during the pandemic and the importance of travel and tourism to each state's economy.

"This grant money will further IDDC's mission to drive more consumers to the leisure and travel-related entities within our state, which will help those entities recover from the pandemic," said Elaine Bedel, IDDC secretary.

"We also anticipate that our initiatives will raise the perception of Indiana."

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The federal funds for the tourism grant were included in Democratic President Joe Biden's "American Rescue Plan" that was enacted in March with the support of U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland.

The spending was opposed by every Republican representing Indiana in Congress, including U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun.

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

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