Report: Hamilton County visitor spending up 11 percent in 2017

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Hamilton County visitors in 2017 added $820 million to the local economy—up 11 percent from the previous year, a newly released study found.

Visitor spending in the county has been growing since 2012 and by double-digit percentages since 2015, when visitors spent about $680 million.

The data comes from the Economic Impact of Tourism in Indiana study, conducted by Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics, which calculates a slew of information on tourism: total visitor spending, tax revenue generated, number of jobs sustained and created and overall economic impact. Hamilton County Tourism pays Rockport to analyze its county-level data. Rockport is expected to also study 2018 data, and the tourism organization will also commission a study projecting growth in tourism spending from 2020 to 2023.

Hamilton County Tourism President and CEO Brenda Myers said the newest numbers reflect increased opportunities, attractions and businesses in Hamilton County. 

“A healthy local corporate/office base, a dynamic and growing group market and attractiosn such as Grand Park, Conner Prairie and Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center, among others, contribute greatly to the local economy and this tremendous growth in tourism,” she said in written comments.

Recently, the county tourism organization also invested heavily in a multi-layered marketing campaign in Chicago with TV, radio and print ads. The organization spent about $500,000 last year in marketing efforts targeting Chicago, where it sees a number of travelers coming from. 

The county’s 11.1 percent increase in visitor spending is higher than the state’s 3.7 percent growth and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area at 3.8 percent.

Rockport Analytics’ study found the majority of visitor spending in Hamilton County was on food and beverage, and retail. Those two categories accounted for about $539 million of spending, the study shows. Retail growth has been especially strong, with the county becoming a magnet for day-trip visitors (people who live 50 miles or more from the county and do not stay overnight). With the opening of IKEA and TopGolf in Fishers in late 2017 county officials expect to see even higher retail numbers in the 2018 report.

Recreation and entertainment brought in another $134 million. Lodging accounted for $95.7 million of total spending, according to the study.

Additionally, tourism spending in Hamilton County in 2017 supported 11,553 jobs, including those at hotels, restaurants and attractions.

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