County should cash in on tourism market

A new report documents the growing impact tourism has on the Indiana economy.

The report released by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development shows travel, tourism and hospitality continues to be the sixth-largest industry in the state (excluding government), supports more than 187,000 jobs and contributes $10.3 billion in revenue to Hoosier businesses.

This is the second consecutive year tourism’s economic impact was measured. This study used data from 2013; the most recent year complete data was available.

“The economic impact report for 2013 shows that Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry continues to grow and have a significant impact on the Hoosier economy,” Ellspermann said.

In 2013 the travel, tourism and hospitality industry was responsible for 1.5 percent of total Indiana gross domestic product, 4.7 percent of total jobs in the state and 6.3 percent of state & local tax receipts. The study shows measurable growth over 2012, a year buoyed by Super Bowl XLVI.

Key points from the economic impact study include:

  • Total Indiana tourism spending in 2013 of $10.3 billion (an increase of $200 million over the previous year).
  • In 2013 visitor spending translated to more than $7.9 billion in Indiana GDP.
  • Leisure travelers comprised 85 percent of total visitors.
  • Indiana visitors contributing $572 million, or 8.5 percent, of sales tax receipts.
  • Indiana retaining about 77 percent of each dollar spent by visitors.

“Tourism is big business in Indiana and every Hoosier household benefits from a robust tourism economy,” said Mark Newman, the state tourism office’s executive director. “If visitors stopped coming to Indiana, each household would have to pay an additional $478 in state and local taxes to offset the loss of visitor spending.”

Johnson County officials should mine the data in the state report to look for trends and then discuss ways that the county can exploit its natural advantages and prepare to cash in on the trends.

At the same time, the county needs to examine how best to promote local tourism. And to do that might well be the creation of a county tourism bureau funded by an innkeeper’s tax. The tax would be assessed on hotel stays in the county, with the funds going to promote tourism.

In light of the state report, now would be an appropriate time for renewed discussion of an innkeeper’s tax to fund an office to promote Johnson County tourism. We need to let outsiders know what they’ll find when they visit the area.

At issue

A recent state report demonstrates the value of tourism to the state’s economy.

Our point

The time is ripe for renewed discussion of implementing an innkeeper’s tax to fund an office to promote Johnson County tourism.