Indianapolis Regional Tourism Master Plan

What is it?

An evolving plan that outlines tangible strategies that support what Indy regional tourism should look like by 2025 and beyond. 

Why does it exist?

The plan presents tangible strategies in order for Indy to grow increasingly competitive as a must-see leisure destination for generations to come. The plan is not just for visitors to Indy, but for the quality of life for our residents.
In implementing the Tourism Master Plan, we aim to:
  • Increase the number of visitors from 28 million to 31 million.
  • Increase total visitor spending from $4.9 billion to $5.68 billion.
  • Increase the number of full time equivalent tourism jobs from 77,800 to 96,400.

What are the strategies?

Tourism Master Plan Strategies

1. Develop iconic tourism game-changers.

Indy must support the development of attractions that become iconic in terms of distinction and recognition. These are products such as attractions and venues that have the potential to significantly increase visitor demand. They may be existing attractions that are enhanced or new products to develop.
Example Idea: Create an iconic architectural feature as a distinctive Indy marker on the city’s skyline. (i.e. Eiffel Tower)
In Progress: Develop the 103-acre former GM Stamping Plant downtown into Waterside.
In Progress: Activate 40+ miles of the White River as a natural and commercial corridor for residents and visitors.

2. Create unique, authentic experiences and programming.

Visitors expect engaging and emotionally-connecting experiences when they travel. Indy’s activity “software” – festivals, cultural and historical offerings, performances, exhibitions, sports events, recreation fun, and culinary offerings – are addressed in this strategy.
Example Idea: Develop proprietary conferences, meetings, and events. Indy can incubate its own thought-leader conferences revolving around core business areas such as agriculture, food, bio, life sciences, pharma, sports, and technology. World food conference, anyone?

3. Further develop Indy’s downtown core as a tourism magnet.

Downtown Indy is the shared front porch of the region serving as the region’s business, convention and visitor hub. Downtown’s vibrancy is critical to our success.
In Progress: Strategically expand downtown’s accommodation capacity, based on pending results from a recent downtown hotel assessment study. More info here.

4. Take dramatic steps to enhance Indy’s sense of place.

Sense of place describes a variety-pack of attributes that give a place meaning. Our plan identifies sense of place initiatives in the areas of public sites and spaces, neighborhoods, parks and trail systems, urban design including architecture and streetscapes, beautification, and safety.
In Progress: Leverage and enhance our trail system to make the Indy region the most connected US destination for cycling, hiking, and walking. Check out development of USBR35 and USBR50.

5. Enhance mobility and connection.

This strategy focuses on accessibility and connectivity, intermodal transportation options such as air service, public transit, rail, shared economic transportation, highways and roads, plus wayfinding systems are included.
Example Idea: Develop a regional wayfinding system.
In Progress: Recruit more domestic and international air service at Indianapolis International Airport from traditional and non-traditional providers. 
In Progress: Linking upcoming transit routes to tourism venues and great places, like the 16th Street and Meridian Street corridor.
New Non-Stop Direct Flights from Indy

6. Strengthen the Indy brand and its emotional impact.

Strong brands make strong connections with users. We need to unlock our authentic and distinctive Indy story.
Example Idea: Develop an in-destination app that presents real-time tourism opportunities.

7. Create a sustainable tourism growth model.

This plan will require a long-term investment in both capital and talent. The funding needed for infrastructure, product development, and marketing will most likely arise from a combination of public, private, and philanthropic sources. Regarding human capital, we need to recruit, train, and place individuals into hospitality industry jobs, and develop pathways to long-lasting careers. The human capital of residents cannot be overlooked. They are our natural ambassadors who represent the local experiences and welcoming spirits of our communities.
In Progress: Build a regional tourism talent development and career pathways system to include career training programs that ensure long-term availability of qualified employees. 


What the Tourism Master Plan is not?
It is not a marketing plan but its outcomes positively augment a destination’s brand, and foster heightened awareness. It is not a one- or two-year plan, but one with a 10+ year outlook. It is not a plan “owned” by a single organization, but by multiple organizations and stakeholders throughout the Indy region. The reality is that the TMP is bigger than Visit Indy and Tourism Tomorrow, Inc. It is a collaborative plan requiring the interest, cooperation, resources, and implementation by other civic non-profits, regional DMOs and their county leadership, Indy’s elected official, Indiana Office of Tourism Development and LT. Governor’s offices, and private developers, among others. Also, it is not a plan set in stone. While its core strategies are meant to provide long-term structure, the plan will evolve each year as new opportunities are identified and past opportunities are re-evaluated.

What process was used to develop Indy’s Tourism Master Plan?

The Indy Tourism Master Plan was created during a 16-month time period beginning in September 2014 through December 2015, when it was approved by the Visit Indy and Tourism Tomorrow board of directors. The process began with the formation of a steering committee comprised of local leaders and members of our boards. A consulting group with expertise in tourism planning was retained and work began. Existing research was reviewed. Competition was analyzed. Convention customers, tour operators, regional stakeholders, public officials, hospitality industry leaders, and local residents provided significant input via personal meetings, focus groups and online surveys. Existing regional tourism assets were mapped. Visioning sessions were held. Strategic approaches were vetted. As a result, a draft plan was available for comment in December 2015.

How will the plan be managed?

The Tourism Tomorrow, Inc. board serves as the “defacto” steering committee to review TMP strategic actions. The Visit Indy board will be provided regular updates and their insights sought. A broader advisory committee, many who were involved with framing the plan, will be activated annually to review plan progress and suggested updates. Visit Indy’s VP of Destination Development will serve as the professional staff leader on the plan. Regional DMOs are critical to the process, providing the leadership within their destinations for the plan’s strategic development and implementation.

Who are our partners?

Downtown Indy, White River State Park Commission, Indiana Sports Corporation, Indy Chamber, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Reconnecting our Waterways (ROW), Indiana Convention Center, Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, Indianapolis International Airport, EmployIndy, regional DMOs, private businesses and developers, among others.

Have an idea?

As the Tourism Master Plan is an ever-evolving plan, we’d love to hear your ideas on how to make Indy a more vibrant destination. Think BIG. What’s an iconic tourism game-changer? What new experiences or events would you like to see in Indy? We’re all ears. Please complete the form below and help shape the future of our city.

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