Visit Indy reports record 2015 despite RFRA backlash

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., (January 28, 2016) - Convention and tourism took a big hit last year when the controversial RFRA bill became law.

Visit Indy reported losing millions of dollars, but despite the loss, at its annual meeting Thursday, Visit Indy says 2015 was a record year thanks to surging in-state business.

Indiana was put in a negative light to those out of state and the brand Hoosier Hospitality was damaged, but key Indiana businesses said yes to the city.

The National FFA's commitment to hold its Convention & Expo in Indianapolis from 2019 through 2024 along with several other bookings turned a difficult year into a banner year for Visit Indy.

Meantime, Visit Indy is keeping an eye on a new bill lawmakers will debate this session.

Lawmakers say Senate Bill 344 adds protections for LGB Hoosiers and repeals RFRA.

The bill does not provide any protections for the transgender community, but lawmakers say it's still a big step for Indiana.

“I do feel that SB 344 is a major step forward a major proposal for change in Indiana. It provides strong religious freedom protections; it does propose and provide civil rights protections for the LGB community. And considering where we were a couple of years ago that’s a big step for Indiana,” said Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long.

Indiana Democrats react by saying the state’s economy is clouded as ever and RFRA is doing long-term damage to the overall well-being of Indianapolis.