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Tourism leaders trying to reschedule postponed events

Indianapolis tourism can still be salvaged despite coronavirus limits

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Convention Center remained open Friday despite the governor’s plan to cap gatherings at 250 people, but the center’s schedule is pretty sparse over the next 30 days.

It’s still too early to know just how hard the lack of tourism is going to affect Indy. Each year, tourism brings in 29 million people and billions of dollars. Visit Indy, which watches visitor-related economic impact, says it’s going to be a rough next couple of months without that revenue.

The Convention Center halls were empty Friday. Two events have officially canceled. That means there’s still a chance to see that tourism another month.

“Most of the shows, if not all of the shows that we’ve been talking to want to postpone until later this year,” said Andy Mallon, executive director of the Capital Improvement Board that oversees the Convention Center.

That doesn’t mean the work stops. The Convention Center is still open for groups under 250 people, so employees are still getting a paycheck.

“Our plan is to maintain current staffing levels,” Mallon said. “Again, we have a lot of work to do. Whether it’s sales staff that is continuing to rebook these events, planners working on events coming in the next few months and the housekeeping staff and our events staff that are going to maintain the building.”

Outside the Convention center, nearby businesses won’t be getting the attention they normally would during a season of packed events.

“It really truly is a tourism crisis,” said Chris Gahl, senior vice president of marketing and communications of Visit Indy.

That’s why Visit Indy is looking at local Hoosiers who don’t have the virus to help the economy over the next couple months.

“We still have awesome things to do that 30 million people from around the world come in to see,” Gahl said. “So why not stay a little closer to home in a healthy way and treat your kids to a fun couple of days?”

Visit Indy is putting a pause on 90% of its advertising to help save money and keep its workforce healthy. They say they’re hopeful with rescheduling events and reserving finances that the city will be fine in the long run.

“That pause, while we’re hopefully optimistic could be 30 days, could extend to 60, maybe 90, and we’re anticipating the worst case and planning for the worst case, and yet I think you’ll see and hopefully trends will show that the 30-day window is really where we need to stay and that we can rebound after that,” Gahl said.

That 30-day window is the magic number all around. That’s when the Convention Center hopes big events can resume, but if they need to postpone more, they say they still have the space to reschedule later in the year.