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Tourism’s role wins praise at city luncheon

May 15th, 2017

By Cody Thompson | The Journal Gazette

Tourism is the sixth largest industry in the state and things are really moving in Fort Wayne, Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said Thursday.

Others mentioned the billions of dollars brought into the state by tourism and the millions to Fort Wayne specifically. One idea maintained, though, is Hoosier hospitality is different from anything else.

“I've traveled to all 92 counties, and Indiana has so much to offer,” Crouch said. “We're such a special state.”

Representatives from Visit Fort Wayne were host to Visit Indiana, Midwest Living magazine and Turnstone, along with Crouch and Fort Wayne's mayor, Tom Henry, at a luncheon where recent economic statistics relating to tourism in Fort Wayne and Indiana were released.

Present also were about 100 guests linked in some way to the local tourism and hospitality industry.

At each seat was a piece of paper detailing the effects of tourism by the numbers. On one side was the state of Indiana as a whole, which attracted 77 million visitors last year – a 4.3 percent increase from the previous. It also stated that visitors spent $11.5 billion in Indiana – an 8.6 percent increase. These numbers were also read aloud by Mark Newman, executive director at the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.

“One of the things we're so proud of about tourism in Indiana is the fact that every single Hoosier household benefits from the existence of travel tourism and hospitality in our state,” he said. “In 2015, the last time we measured this particular element of the industry, every Hoosier household saved $550.”

The other side of the paper included specifics on Fort Wayne's tourism industry. According to the data, Fort Wayne brings in 5.8 million visitors annually who spend about $576 million. The visitors also pay $80.8 million in state and local taxes when they visit, easing the burden on Fort Wayne residents.

“Those numbers also tell us something else,” said Dan O'Connell, president/CEO of Visit Fort Wayne. “These numbers indicate that Allen County experienced an 18.6 percent increase in visitor spending between 2013 and 2014. That's twice the state average, which was excellent, at 8 percent.”

The luncheon was part of a statewide celebration of National Tourism and Travel Week, which is recognized by both national and state travel and tourism organizations.

“It's a great time to realize that even in Allen County, Indiana, we have a very exciting and vibrant tourism community,” said Kristen Guthrie, director of marketing at Visit Fort Wayne.

This idea of a vibrant tourism community was shared and by the speakers at the luncheon, which is why Henry decided to issue a proclamation during the event.

He officially declared May 11 as Fort Wayne tourism day.

“It's important that we continue to push forward the idea that Fort Wayne is a welcoming city,” he said.

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