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Indiana tourism pulls in record 80 million visitors and $12.7 billion last year

Beachgoers enjoy the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Portage. Tourism pulled in a record $12.7 billion in Indiana in 2018.

More than 80 million people visited Indiana tourist destinations like the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Horseshoe Casino, Deep River Waterpark, Whihala Beach and 3 Floyds in 2017, spending more than $12.7 billion at businesses and recreational and cultural institutions across the state.

More than half of the visitors to the Hoosier state were making day trips and did not stay overnight at hotels, or remain in the state for an extended period of time. But overall tourism in Indiana increased by 3.7 percent as compared to the previous year for the seventh straight annual increase, according to a new report released by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.

“Now in its seventh year of continued growth, the tourism industry has set a record $12.7 billion in visitor spending last year,” Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said last week. 

Overnight visits to Indiana rose to 31.2 million in 2017, with visitors spending an average of $158, up 2.5 percent from the previous year. Rockport Analytics, commissioned by the state to do the study, estimates that tourism added $9.8 billion to the state's gross domestic product, supported 199,830 full-time jobs, and generated $1.4 billion in state and local taxes, saving households across the state $561 in taxes by passing that tax burden onto tourists.

Visitors paid an estimated 9 percent of all sales taxes the state of Indiana collected in 2017, up 4 percent from the previous year.

Much of the increase in tourism in Indiana last year was because of business trips, which account for 14 percent of all visits to the state, the study found. More than 11 million people visited Indiana for business in 2017, a year-over-year increase of 8 percent. Day trips from within Indiana and neighboring states like Illinois and Michigan totaled 48.8 million, a 1.4 percent gain from the previous year.

The Illinois Office of Tourism reported that Illinois had 114 million visitors who spent more than $39.6 billion in 2017, mostly in the international tourist destination of Chicago, generating $2.95 billion in state and local revenue.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.