Inside INdiana Business

BSU report recommends state-led COVID guidance on tourism


MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – A new policy report from Ball State University says COVID-19 has damaged Indiana’s tourism and hospitality sectors to the point where strong government intervention is necessary. According to the report, the sectors have come to a near complete standstill during the first half of the year.

“The Recovery After COVID-19: Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality Industries of Indiana,” report by Craig Webster and Sotiris Hji-Avgoustis, management faculty in Ball State’s Miller College of Business cites the World Travel & Tourism Council’s findings that the pandemic caused over 100 million tourism-related job losses across the globe.  

“The estimates for the losses of jobs in the sector are substantial for many reasons,” stated Webster. “There is little to be done in terms of moving to virtual tourism that can benefit the labor that works in bricks and mortar tourism and hospitality establishments. So, while software engineers, accountants, and university professors can easily move their operations to their home offices, many in tourism and hospitality do not have that option.”

The research cites 2018 data on tourism, which suggests that one in 23 Hoosier workers is employed through the various hospitality industries. Ball State says the same data also shows that the Indiana tourism industry directly supported more than 152,000 jobs in Indiana in 2018.

According to the report, while the state is not in a major hub of international tourism, Indiana’s travel, tourism, and hospitality industries are important to the economy and provide significant revenues.

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“The economic recovery for the industry in Indiana will require a strong governmental response, funneling funds into improving the tourism infrastructure and ensuring visitors in Indiana that they will be safe to travel to and in Indiana,” Webster said.

The report suggests the state could take the lead on a number of initiatives, including funding of market research for the industry, coordination of policies across the state for the industry, training workers and encouraging workers to return to the industry, and developing a state-level recovery strategy.

Webster says the pandemic will likely have a lasting effect upon government and the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries for years to come.

You can view the full report by clicking here.