A record number of people took part in the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center last year. Across the street another record was set. In all, more than a million people took part in the pageantry of Super Bowl XLVI. Building on that momentum in 2013 is the goal of tourism officials in Indianapolis.
“What is next? Where are we headed and how can we collectively get there?” asked Chris Gahl of Visit Indy.
Even without the big game, big things are expected in 2013. For example, 755,000 hotel rooms were booked in 2012.
The bar has been raised again this year to 780,000 hotel rooms – that is the goal.
“The physical infrastructure has us competing daily, viciously with major cities like Chicago, or Orlando or Denver,” said Gahl. “We are winning convention business and winning events from them and against them, but we can’t sit idle.”
But how to make it happen? Gahl said that was the question downtown decision-makers are trying to find an answer to. Gahl said one idea is having more events along The Canal, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Another plan involves making Georgia Street more popular. One idea tossed around is a New Year’s Eve party a la Times Square.
Something that could affect Indy tourism are tax increases on rent-a-cars and tickets to major events.
In 2011, 22 million people took in the sites and sounds of Indianapolis, spending almost $4 billion. Gahl does not think a bump in taxes will scare visitors away.
“When you look at that end number, even taking into consideration that potential tax increase for rent-a-car, we are still incredibly affordable in the minds of the visitor,” said Gahl. “I do not think that would be a hindrance.”
Visitor Tim Huffman said he liked what he saw of the Circle City.
“Great town, clean town,” said Huffman. “Very, very friendly to the public. I feel safe here. Everything is close, everything is within walking distance. It is a nice town.”
Another issue being addressed by the city is panhandlers. Gahl said the goal is to help the people who need it, but at the same time, not letting their presence affect big events planned for downtown.