Indianapolis tourism study suggests historic growth in funding, employment

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A study released by Visit Indy shows the economic impact of the tourism industry in Indianapolis generated $4.4 billion in 2012, an increase from the $4 billion generated in 2011.

The study was conducted by the Baltimore-based research firm Rockport Analytics. It also shows an increase in the number of visitors, with more than 26 million people from around the world traveling to Indianapolis in 2012, an increase from 25 million in 2011.

While 2012 was the year of the Super Bowl, an event that generated $337 million in just 14 days, the general manager of the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown said they are seeing historic numbers now from 2013, and they have high hopes for 2014.

He also claimed the addition of the JW Marriott sparked interest from larger conventions and event organizers who needed the extra space.

“It has been a really successful year, and although it’s a post Super Bowl year, we still had record occupancy for the 12 year history of this hotel,” said Phil Ray, general manager of the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

The study also suggests that visitor spending per trip increased to $169 in 2012 up $8 from 2011, and approximately 74,000 full-time equivalent jobs were generated as a result of tourism spending in central Indiana.

“The convention and tourism industry is a powerful economic engine for Central Indiana,” said Leonard Hoops, president & CEO of Visit Indy.  “Visitors to Indianapolis generate substantial tax revenue not just locally, but statewide.  And visitor spending supports jobs for hospitality professionals at virtually every educational and experience level – jobs that simply can’t be outsourced.”

When examining tourism across the entire state, visitor spending in the Indianapolis region accounted for over 44 percent of all tourism spending in Indiana.  Visitor spending in Central Indiana also produced $1.1 billion in total tax receipts, including $265 million in state sales tax alone, according to the study data.

“A lot of our conventions have seen an explosion in growth, and we have been booking larger, more lucrative conventions,” said Chris Gahl, Visit Indy spokesperson.

The National Rifle Association will hold a convention in Indianapolis in April. The event could be Indianapolis’ largest yet because it is expected to draw 70,000 people.

“The jobs are right here. It’s just a question of developing the volume,” said former Senator Richard Lugar, (R) who also served as mayor of Indianapolis.

Gahl said they often compete against Chicago, San Antonio and Orlando for business. Indianapolis is often able to win the bid because of several key factors: “For a meeting planner, we’re affordable, we’re clean, we’re safe, we’re walkable, and we have relatively new facilities.”

Data for 2013 will be released at the end of 2014.

Visit Indy is also working on a long term tourism plan after receiving funding from the Capital Improvement Board. Discussions have centered around adding more hotel rooms and another convention center expansion.

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