INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Tourists can clog up the sidewalks, slow down traffic and at times annoy actual residents. But it turns out tourists are spending big bucks in the Indianapolis area, lowering taxes at the same time.
Indianapolis continues to find ways to keep tourists coming to town. Last year, 22 million tourists came to Indy, an increase of 2 million from 2010, according to a just released study by Rockport Analytics for Visit Indy.
All those visitors are spending plenty, says Chris Gahl, vice president of marketing for Visit Indy, the city's tourism arm.
"Nearly $4 billion in economic impact was generated in 2011," says Gahl.
Those dollars translate into jobs, Gahl says. The study found that 75,000 full-time equivalent jobs were created in 2011, up from fewer than 70,000 in 2010. There was also $632 million generated in local and state taxes.
Visit Indy estimates residents would have to pay $924 in extra state and local taxes if tourists stopped spending their money in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, Visit Indy feels confident about its own health.
"Visit Indy operates on a $14 million annual budget. That's for overhead of staff and marketing materials and sales tactics. And to day nearly $4 billion was generated from that investment, we know that's healthy," he says.
More than half of the visitors — 66 percent — come to Indy for leisure activities, including sporting events. 34 percent visit for business, conventions and meetings.
"We're a city that people come for leisure visits, with family and friends — to go to the largest children's museum, to eat at St. Elmo's, not with a business hat on, but with jeans on to relax with family and friends," says Gahl.
And if you think the numbers are up because Indy hosted Super Bowl 46, think again.
"These numbers are 2011, so not even taking into consideration the Super Bowl," says Gahl.
Which means when 2012 is tabulated, the numbers are likely to be even better.
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