Tourism has big impact in Hamilton County

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Visitors spent an estimated $375 million in Hamilton County last year, according to local results released Wednesday in connection with a broader report on the economic impact of tourism in Indiana.

Statewide, the industry maintains nearly 140,000 jobs and contributes $10 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses, the full report said.

The study found Hamilton County—home to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville and Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts—supports more than 10,500 tourism jobs.

And that’s before Westfield opens its massive Grand Park Sports Complex, which is expected to draw more than 1 million youth-sports fans to the growing suburb beginning next year. Mayor Andy Cook has said hospitality is the city’s primary industry.

“Collaborative place-making efforts are paying off, and the biggest dividends are yet to come as product continues to mature or come on line,” Visit Hamilton County exec Brenda Myers said in a prepared statement.

As IBJ reported last month, the number of visitors traveling to Hamilton County increased from 1.7 million in 2005 to 2.1 million in 2011.

About 34 percent of the county’s visitor spending went for food and beverages, the new report said; 32 percent was spent shopping and 16 percent on entertainment and recreation. Lodging represented just 11 percent of the total.

For every travel dollar spent, 92 cents stays in the county, the report said.

What’s your take on the county’s tourism performance—and prospects?

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