Tourism officials awarded $178,000 to create long-term plan to keep Indy on the map

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Visit Indy has been awarded $178,000 by the Capital Improvement Board to create a longterm tourism plan. Tourism officials said $4.4 billion is generated annually in Central Indiana through tourism, and the Circle City needs to stay competitive.

The Performance Racing Industry convention is in Indianapolis this weekend, and the spokesperson for Visit Indy Chris Gahl said the city cannot afford to lose it again. The convention was last held in Indianapolis in 2004.

“If you build it, they will return. We lost PRI in 2004. They outgrew the convention center and the hotels,” said Gahl, who spoke to a convention center overhaul.

PRI promises to attract 40,000 people this year, and it will be the second most profitable convention for the city in 2013.

“It’s just a good time for us racers to visit with the vendors, the people who send us parts, and to make some deals,” said Dave Darland, a driver.

“I like that is back in Indy,” said Bill Koppinger,¬†with Baer Brakes.

PRI saw a 20 percent increase in exhibits over last year, and it has already taken up all of the convention floor. It may need to expand into Lucas Oil Stadium in the future.

“We’ll look to tourism industry experts to ask what has the community done right or wrong? What should we be looking at?where should we be headed?” said Gahl.

He continued. “Having a plan like that could expedite ideas, like potentially expanding the convention center, adding more hotels, activating Pan Am Plaza more often.”

The tourism industry also employs 75,000 people in Central Indiana.

The long-term plan project will kick off January 1, and it could take up to two years to complete.