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State tourism brings in record $12.7 billion

December 29, 2018

The Hoosier State generated a record $12.7 billion in visitor spending last year : the seventh consecutive year of growth, Indiana officials reported Friday.

A study commissioned by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and conducted by Rockport Analytics found that 80 million people visited state destinations in 2017. That number includes Indiana residents who stayed overnight or traveled more than 50 miles one way to the destination.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said the report is issued almost 12 full months after each year’s end because it takes that long for the contractor to gather and analyze information from multiple sources.

Among its other findings, the 26-page report said:

• Overnight visits increased to 31.2 million

• Spending per visitor increased to $158, on average

• Indiana’s tourism supported almost 200,000 full-time jobs

• Of each dollar spent, 72 cents remained in Indiana

Tourism generated 561 in taxes, on average, the study showed.

Business-related visits increased by almost 8 percent, the largest increase by any one category. The total exceeded 11 million visits. 

Among the attractions drawing visitors are those partially funded by the Regional Cities Initiative program, which awarded three $42 million grants including one to northeast Indiana, Crouch said during a phone interview.

The projects, she said, “make the regions more welcoming, not just to the people who live in them but also to visitors.”

Crouch, who has traveled to northeast Indiana numerous times during her term as lieutenant governor, visited most recently Dec. 19. That’s when she came to celebrate NewAllen Alliance’s selection as one of the state’s Stellar Communities.

The Stellar Communities program will provide about 17 million for projects in the NewAllen Alliance, which comprises Leo-Cedarville, Grabill, Harlan, Woodburn, New Haven, Monroeville and Hoagland.

“It is such a diverse and such an attractive part of the state,” Crouch said of northeast Indiana.

Although a few enormous investments have dominated the headlines : including the two-part, 200 million riverfront development projects : Crouch highlighted a few less heralded destinations.

Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground at Kreager Park allows children with physical limitations to play without worrying parents, a rarity that attracts families from a large area, she said.

Turnstone, a center for children and adults with disabilities, hosts various sports competition, including goalball, a version of soccer for blind athletes, Crouch said.

Sweetwater Sound attracts music lovers, DeBrand Fine Chocolates draws chocoholics and Pokagon State Park’s toboggan run lures winter weather enthusiasts, she added.

“I could go on and on and on,” she said. “They are attracting a different group of people.”

Crouch, who calls southwest Indiana home, applauds economic growth in all parts of the state, saying all Hoosiers benefit.

“It’s incredible,” she said, “the breadth and depth of what northeast Indiana has to offer.” 

sslater@jg.net

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