Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says the city is ready for visitors again and announced a $1 million marketing campaign to draw in tourists from around the state as restaurants and other businesses continue reopening.
“After a period of frustration, a period of mourning, a period of learning, we are coming back,” Hogsett said during a press conference July 1. “Indianapolis is coming back.”
The $1 million will come from federal COVID-19 relief funds. The city is partnering with Visit Indy for the initiative, and some hotels, restaurants and other businesses are offering up to 50% off normal rates to entice visitors.
The campaign will last through Labor Day. Go to visitindy.com/indianapolis-you-have-earned it to learn more about the campaign and special deals.
Visit Indy estimates that more than half of the normal 83,000 residents who are employed in the city’s hospitality industry are currently unemployed. Hotels, which would normally be occupied at about 70% right now, are at about 7% occupancy.
“If we value things that make Indy unique … then we must also realize that the reason those places are so special isn’t because of where they are, but because of what they represent,” Hogsett said.
Visit Indy President and CEO Leonard Hoops said it’s especially important to get visitors who stay at hotels because they are more likely to then spend money at other businesses.
City-county council President Vop Osili noted that Black and brown residents have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and the resulting financial struggles. He encouraged everyone to visit Black-owned businesses as the process of reopening continues.
Encouraging people to travel to Indianapolis right now comes with some risk, though, even as city leaders are quick to remind people that COVID-19 has not gone away. Some states were apparently too ambitious in their reopening and caused a surge in cases, forcing them to backtrack.
“When you see what’s happening in other parts of the country, you’re constantly monitoring and very wary,” Hogsett said.
He said he’ll continue to work with county and state health officials to make sure that doesn’t happen to Indianapolis.
One day after announcing the marketing campaign, Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine announced Indianapolis will move into “Stage 4.5” of reopening, similar to the state-level approach.
Bars, theaters and entertainment centers can open at 50% capacity, and restaurants can be at 75% capacity.
Hogsett also announced that residents will be required to wear a face covering when out in public, starting July 9.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.