INDIANAPOLIS — Tourism in Indianapolis is rebounding, according to new data from Visit Indy.
This weekend, 50,000 people are expected to arrive in Indy for the Performance Racing Industry trade show. Seventy thousand were here for the Big Ten Football Championship game, and all those visitors are good for business as Indianapolis continues to rebound from the pandemic.
“Indy didn’t really stop hosting meetings and events during COVID,” said Nate Swick, senior communications manager for Visit Indy.
Swick said that paid off big time as the city recovered.
“As we look through 2020 numbers, hotel revenue numbers across the city is up 10% over 2019 numbers, the last year before the pandemic,” Swick said.
More people are visiting the Circle City.
“We’re only 3.2% behind overall visitation numbers from 2019,” Swick said. “So we’re almost 100% of visitation numbers back looking at 2019 and on track to exceed those numbers in 2023.”
More visitors has been good for business.
“It only gets better,” said Jennifer McDaniel, owner of Artisans on Massachusetts Avenue. She and her husband opened the shop at the start of quarantine.
“Starting out, pandemic and riots, it was scary,” McDaniel said. “Every year it gets better, every month it gets better. We had our best day of the year, of our career, on Small Business Saturday.”
The boost in tourism has been great for businesses new and old.
“Oh it’s great, it’s like we’re back,” said Richard Edwards, general manager at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse.
For 120 years, St. Elmo’s has called the Circle City home.
Edwards said the events that were able to be put on throughout the pandemic helped them stay afloat.
“That was really supporting business, but truly our core during that time was the community supporting us,” Edwards said.
Today, they’re flooded with reservations and fully staffed for the first time since the pandemic.
“With everything going on at the convention center, Visit Indy and the events around downtown, doing nothing but growing our sales and making us stronger than we ever were before,” Edwards said.
Indianapolis is ending the year on a high note with a busy December. Fifteen conventions are planned now through the end of the month, generating even more revenue for businesses.