INDIANAPOLIS — While the COVID-19 pandemic hurt Indianapolis’ tourism industry, the community came together and the industry is rebounding. That message was presented by Visit Indy and other leaders during the State of Tourism report Tuesday afternoon.
The city lost an estimated $612 million in convention business since 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Visit Indy. An estimated 40% of the city’s tourism workforce was unemployed in 2020.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Indianapolis hosted more than 200 in-person events, including the NCAA Tournament, according to Visit Indy.
“It would be nearly impossible for Indy to pull off March Madness without the dedication of those who work in our hotels,” Susie Townsend, vice president of visitor experience at Visit Indy, said.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the city invested $7 million in improvements to facilities in the city to continue to host events during the pandemic.
More than 130,000 people attended the events, Hogsett said.
“We were able to pull of March Madness because of each and every member of the hospitality family in the city of Indianapolis,” Hogsett said.
Leonard Hoops, the president and CEO of Visit Indy, said the global tourism industry lost $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs during the pandemic.
174,000 people bought tickets during the NCAA tournament, Hoops said. More people came to Indianapolis to visit the city and restaurants during the tournament.
The tournament gave Indianapolis a large amount of publicity through media and social media impressions, Hoops said.
The rest of 2021 looks pretty good for Indianapolis’ tourism industry, Hoops said. At least 29 conventions, including GenCon, Sweet & Snacks Expo and more, are still planned for this year.
Nearly every four out of five days, 79.3%, are already booked in 2022 at the Indiana Convention Center for citywide events, Hoops said.
“We’re still not quite out of this,” Hoops said addressing the hospitality workers. “But I hope you’ve heard enough to know we're on our way out and the future is up to you.
The entire hospitality industry in Indianapolis won the Bill McGowan Leadership award.
Some of Indianapolis’ hospitality workers were honored during the event during the 30th Annual ROSE Awards.
You can watch the event below: