By Festival Country Indiana
A new economic impact study shows tourism contributed $341.3 million to Johnson County’s economy in 2021, up from $255.7 million in 2017.
The economic impact represents an 8.4% annual spending increase each year.
“This study confirms what we see firsthand, that our hotels have a strong occupancy rate, that our festivals are attracting big crowds, and that our attractions and tourism-related businesses are sustaining their success,” said Kenneth Kosky, executive director of Festival Country Indiana, Johnson County’s official tourism agency.
Kosky said the annual growth is especially impressive considering that it occurred despite the pandemic. He said Festival Country increased its advertising reach during the pandemic to help local restaurants, stores and other tourism businesses survive and even thrive.
Festival Country Indiana began operating in 2017. Johnson County was one of the last counties in Indiana to form a tourism agency.
An economic impact study conducted in 2013, prior to Festival Country’s existence, showed that the economic impact of tourism declined .5% year over year.
The new economic impact study, conducted by Certec, Inc., showed that tourism jobs grew from 2,921 to 3,365, and that taxes generated grew from $60.2 to $80.3 million. Destination travelers grew from 1 million to 1.2 million, while pass-through travelers grew from 1.35 million to 1.38 million.
The study showed that 40.3% of visitors stay one to three nights, while 30.6% are in for a day trip. In addition, 46.8% are on their first trip to the county.
The top attractions in the county include Mallow Run Winery, restaurants, shopping, aquatic centers, The Historic Artcraft Theatre, Rascal’s Fun Zone, Whiteland Raceway Park, parks, Otte Golf, the Festival Country visitor center, Apple Works, splash pads, historic downtown Franklin, Johnson County Museum, and live music.
“Tourism is a large, growing business in Johnson County,” said Jim Carr, president of Certec.
Certec’s study included data analysis as well as in-person interviews and research in Johnson County.
“This study supports what we hear from tourism-related businesses who track the zip codes of their customers. They say that significant spending comes from people outside of Johnson County,” Kosky said.
In addition to marketing Johnson County’s communities and attractions, and operating the county visitor center in downtown Franklin, Festival Country also engages in product development by offering grants to help create new attractions and festivals, and by building attractions like the Gatling Gauntlet obstacle course at Johnson County Park. These efforts improve quality of life for residents and make the communities more attractive to visitors.
Certec’s findings are just one metric that Festival Country Indiana uses to chart its immediate and long-term impact. Other studies and reports show increases in hotel revenue, advertising impressions, website traffic, social media interaction and media reach.