One popular in-state winter tourist attraction, the toboggan run at Pokagon State Park, takes riders up to 40 miles per hour on sleds built for four.
By Jacie Shoaf
The Statehouse File
Tourism and travel is the state's sixth largest industry, not including government, according to a new economic impact report released in December by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
The industry maintains nearly 140,000 jobs and contributes $10 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses, the report said.
"This economic impact study confirms the fact that the travel, tourism and hospitality industry is a crucial segment of the Indiana economy," Ellspermann said. "My office is committed to promoting Indiana tourism and providing support to our partners in the industry."
The study reveals that in 2012, the travel, tourism and hospitality industry constituted roughly 1.5 percent of Indiana's total gross domestic product, 4.8 percent of total jobs and 6.3 percent of state and local tax receipts.
The study took into account Super Bowl XLVI, which was responsible for roughly half of the industry's 5.2 percent growth in 2012.
In addition, the study finds that tourism pays direct wages of more than $3 billion to full and part-time industry employees and that Indiana retains approximately 76 percent of each dollar spent by visitors.
Furthermore, 40 Indiana counties chose to invest in a research cooperative that provided them county-specific reports to document the impact of tourism at the local level.
The study, which defines tourism as an overnight stay or a trip greater than 50 miles each way that is not part of an individual's normal routine, is the first study of its kind to be produced in eight years. It will help measure future developments in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.
"This report illustrates the economic benefit Indiana derives from tourism and is the first such report in some time," said Mark Newman, the tourism department's executive director. "It serves as a necessary benchmark to begin measuring the growth or decline of tourism as an economic driver for the state on a more regular basis."
The study was commissioned by tourism officials and conducted by Rockport Analytics, with managing director and chief economist Ken McGill acting as head of the research team. Rockport Analytics is an independent market research and consulting company that specializes in various studies for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.
"Our research shows Indiana earns a significant positive return from a minimal investment in the tourism industry," McGill said. "The data demonstrates that Indiana has the potential to develop even greater economic development returns through a robust tourism economy."
The study used data on Indiana visitor spending derived from multiple sources, including Longwoods International, Reach Market Planning and U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. The data was reconciled with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the Indiana Department of Revenue regarding employment and tax receipts, as well as secondary sources such as Smith Travel Research.
Jacie Shoaf is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.