Indianapolis Motor Speedway had a different feel today over a week and a half ago when more than 325,000 people gathered to watch the Indianapolis 500.
Instead of honking, yelling and revving engines, a much smaller local group of people gathered for the state’s press conference to announce its new “IN Indiana” tourism marketing campaign in one of the most popular tourist spots in the state.
“This is an exciting time for the state of Indiana,” said Elaine Bedel, secretary and CEO of Indiana Destination Development Corp. “It’s not a slogan. It’s a very different type of promotional campaign that we need everyone to be involved in.”
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The state applied for a federal grant in August and received approval in April for $5.5 million to help create campaign resources. The Department of Commerce is providing grants to states to boost tourism after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
IDDC and Visit Indiana created marketing tools and materials and encourage schools, businesses, cities and Hoosiers across the state to download and distribute them.
The materials include the main campaign identifier – a graphic that reads “IN Indiana” – as well as various titles to be associated with IN Indiana, some of which read: “Explore State Parks” and “Life is Better “. Individuals can also create their own titles.
Hoosiers must register with an email to access the material.
“Research has shown that people have no perception of Indiana,” said Amy Howell, director of tourism, marketing and communications for IDDC. To address this problem, Howell says the state’s strategy is two-fold: to increase Hoosier’s pride within the state and to raise the perception of Indiana outside the state.
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Before the pandemic, the tourism industry was a vital part of the state’s economy. In 2019, Indiana experienced historically high levels of tourism, increasing for the ninth consecutive year. Visitor numbers to the state increased 2.1%, totaling 82.7 million trips, according to research conducted by Rockport Analytics. Visitor spending in Indiana led to a $9.6 billion increase in gross domestic product for the economy, a 3.5% increase from 2018.
In 2020, the pandemic ruined the upward trends of the state’s tourism industry. Visitor numbers to the state fell 19%, with a total of 66.7 million person-trips, as reported by Rockport Analytics. Visitor spending fell by $3.5 billion, resulting in a $6.9 billion increase in state GDP, down 28% from the previous year. Nationally, the US Department of Commerce reports that 56% of the country’s GDP decline in 2020 was due to reduced travel and tourism to and within the United States.
Now, the goal is for tourism in the state to improve every year, with a focus on attracting people from border states, Howell said.
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Governor Eric Holcomb and Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch also spoke at the event. Motor Speedway President Doug Boles introduced them. Indiana Fever President Allison Barber, Knightsville City Council President Sarah Ward and Indiana State University President Deborah J. Curtis attended.
Holcomb talked about many Indiana attractions — Indiana Dunes National Park, the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Notre Dame — that many outsiders don’t realize are native to the state, which is why the news campaign is important.
“The thought that was driving this,” Holcomb said, “has always been, how can we bring an Indiana together, harness that synergy, all of our individual stories that we just naturally share when we’re with each other. others, (to) put this on a world stage?”
Contact IndyStar Pulliam Scholar Lizzie Kane at [email protected]