Tourism officials say Indianapolis’ $5 billion convention and tourism sector, decimated by the pandemic, is on path to be fully recovered by the end of the year, a full year earlier than previous forecasts. Visit Indy Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Chris Gahl says so far this year, Indianapolis has the highest downtown hotel occupancy in the nation for convention business, with revenues generated by those hotels now higher than before the pandemic.
“No other city in the nation hosted more live, in-person events and conventions (in 2021) than Indianapolis, Indiana, 255 to be precise, and that helped create a pathway for us to be stronger and quicker to recover than most major cities,” said Gahl.
Gahl talked about tourism recovery on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
And Gahl says the outlook for future conventions is strong, with a production pipeline of events at 97% of 2019 levels.
Gahl believes the road to recovery began in the Spring of 2020, when the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County made the decision to invest $7 million in health and safety upgrades to the Indiana Convention Center, a move that gave convention and meeting planners around the country confidence to convene in Indianapolis.
Then in 2021, with the nation watching, Indianapolis and Indiana pulled off the improbable, hosting the entirety of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“That put all eyes on Indianapolis and validated this idea that we could safely host complex events during a pandemic. That has helped us recover.”