(Pictured L-R at Visit Indy’s 2019 State of Tourism event: Doran Moreland, executive director for statewide diversity and community outreach, Ivy Tech Community College; Leonard Hoops, president & CEO, Visit Indy; Peyton Manning, 2019 recipient of the Bill McGowan Leadership Award, the state’s highest tourism honor; Bill McGowan, longtime president & CEO of Indiana Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Visit Indy); Allison Melangton, senior VP of events, Hulman Motorsports & Indianapolis Motor Speedway; and Joe Hogsett, mayor of Indianapolis.)
Visitors to Indianapolis have boosted the region’s economy with record spending for seven consecutive years, according to research conducted by Rockport Analytics for Visit Indy, Indianapolis’ official destination marketing organization.
A record 28.8 million visitors added $5.4 billion in economic impact into Indy’s economy in 2017, the most recent full year data available. These visitors also generated $725 million in state and local taxes, and supported a record 81,600 full-time-equivalent jobs in central Indiana. The region has recorded record annual visitor spending every year since 2011.
“Over the last year, Indianapolis has made headlines for various things: our exploding tech sector, acclaimed arts and culinary scenes, thriving neighborhoods, not to mention our world-class sporting events. Yet it is through our tourism industry that we see most clearly what residents already know—Indianapolis is a city that has something for everybody,” says Mayor Joe Hogsett. “The tourism records that we continue to break are a testament to the work of so many in the hospitality industry who welcome visitors to this city and introduce them to this incredible place we call home.”
Visit Indy also reported another strong convention year and leisure tourism results for 2018.
Visit Indy booked 896,544 future group room nights (which includes conventions, tradeshows, meetings and events) in 2018 for events which will occur as far out as 2026, worth more than $800 million in future-visitor spending. It marks the second-highest booking results in Visit Indy’s 95 year history and the fifth consecutive year booking more than 870,000 future group room nights; prior to 2014, Visit Indy had never booked more than 815,000 future group room nights in a single year.
A few of the major wins that contributed to the success in 2018 include hosting Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress to rave reviews, which convened 2,200 meetings industry professionals from 35 countries. Those in attendance drive more than $26 billion in annual meeting buying decisions, and 95 percent said they were highly likely to recommend Indy in MPI’s post-convention survey. More wins include The American Academy of Otolaryngology selecting Indy for 2025, making this the first major convention of nearly 10,000 surgeons to convene in the city; booking Routes Americas 2020, with substantial potential impact on tourism and the economy by bringing in major airline route decision makers; and welcoming back the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2026 with its estimated economic impact of $70 million.
In addition to strong convention sales results, Visit Indy exceeded their annual website traffic goal to VisitIndy.com. More than 3.2 million people visited the site in 2019. Visit Indy increased its shared media audience and connections with 8 percent growth on Twitter (119,000 followers,) 22 percent growth on Instagram (55,500 followers) and 16 percent growth on Facebook (165,500 likes.)
National media also took notice, with Indy making headlines with some of the travel industry’s most respected names:
- “America’s Most Underrated City” – Forbes
- “America’s Best Big Cities of 2018” – Condé Nast Traveler
- “Hottest Destination of 2018” – Airbnb
- “America’s Favorite Places” – Travel and Leisure
- “Most Exciting Food Cities of 2018” – Zagat
- “#1 Airport in America” – Condé Nast Traveler
The city’s tourism and convention strategy continued to race forward, with the Capital Improvement Board’s announcement of a 235,000 sq.ft. expansion of the Indiana Convention Center including a 50,000 sq.ft. ballroom, and two new hotel towers totaling 1,400 additional connected rooms slated to redevelop Pan Am Plaza by 2022.
Visit Indy’s Tourism Master Plan continues to gain momentum, including a comprehensive study and plan to activate 58 miles of the White River, in support of both tourism and residential growth. Another Tourism Master Plan initiative gaining traction is Visit Indy’s support of “Shining a Light,” the Lilly Endowment-backed plan to have a nightly laser light show on Monument Circle beginning in November.
Visit Indy President and CEO Leonard Hoops says, “Indy is on an unprecedented run of convention and tourism success with record numbers of visitors and visitor spending. The team at Visit Indy and our civic and business partners continue to work with urgency to deliver both near-term returns on our public and private investment and to position the region for sustained success through long-term convention and event bookings and strategic product development. With the 2021 NBA All-Star Weekend, 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four, 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship, Indiana Convention Center expansion, a pipeline of 2,000 additional downtown hotel rooms, the White River Master Plan, and other major initiatives on the horizon, Indy is poised for more great years to come.”
These highlights were shared at Visit Indy’s State of Tourism event at the Indiana Convention Center on Jan. 23, where Peyton Manning was honored with the Bill McGowan Leadership Award, Indiana’s highest tourism award, for his contributions to raising the profile of the city and establishing Lucas Oil Stadium as a premier venue for not only the Super Bowl but conventions, tradeshows and events as well.
The mission of Visit Indy is to increase Indianapolis economic growth by strategically selling the destination to conventions, meetings, events, and leisure travelers. For more info, visit VisitIndy.com.