Indiana Tourism Anxious to Reopen
It is an industry with big economic impact in Indiana, and tourism officials say they are ready to reopen for visitors, safely and in a phased approach. In 2018, the state welcomed a record more than 80 million visitors and saw visitor spending top $13 billion, also a record. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has essentially shut the industry down, tourism executives from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River say they are ready to welcome guests again.
Indiana Dunes Tourism Executive Director Lorelei Weimer and SoIN Tourism Assistant Director Luanne Matson talked about the state of tourism in their regions on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Northwest Indiana was anticipating a big year for tourism after last year’s designation of the Dunes as the state’s first national park, but the pandemic has sent hotel occupancy rates in the region plummeting, to little more than 20% says Weimer, who adds she’s beginning to see things pick up.
“We’ve had other states that are still closed around us, so a lot of visitors are coming to The Dunes, and I do think some of those are going to translate into hotel guests, but it’s not going to be anything like it was last year.”
In southeast Indiana, it is estimated that tourism generates more than $300 million in economic impact and the postponement of events like the Kentucky Derby and Thunder Over Louisville has taken a big chunk out of that number.
Matson says while everyone is anxious to get back to business, it is important to reopen the right way. “We want to make sure that we are doing that safely, so that our residents feel good about visitors coming into the community and that visitors feel good,” said Matson.