Tourism bouncing back in Madison County

·2 min read

Jul. 21—ANDERSON — Coming off two years of reduced travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau is seeing an increase in funding through tourism.

The Visitors Bureau is funded by a 5% tax on hotel rooms in the county.

Mark Thacker, executive director of the Visitors Bureau, said Wednesday that receipts from the innkeeper's tax in 2021 was at an all-time high of $692,000.

Revenues are expected to surpass $700,000 this year.

During the pandemic year of 2020 the tax collected amounted to $436,000 which was down from the 2019 collections of $620,000.

The financial figures for the agency are now more readily to members of the public and business community.

The return to transparency within the agency that Thacker implemented after being named interim director follows the example set by former director Ralph Day.

"We were already sharing information with other agencies, so why not share it with the public," Thacker said.

A majority of the tax revenue goes to promoting area events which amounted to $476,000 in 2021.

The amount spent on promoting events dropped in 2020 by almost $435,000 in 2020 during the pandemic year to a total of $380,000.

"We recovered from the pandemic better than expected," Thacker said. "We were tracking revenues on a monthly basis and making adjustments to our budget."

He said the recent increase in COVID cases could have an impact later this year.

Thacker said Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Anderson Speedway and Mounds State Park are attractions that bring visitors to Madison County.

He said a problem is that a lot of people come to the county for events, but then go to stay in hotels in neighboring counties.

"We want people to come and stay in Madison County," Thacker said. "When the two new hotels break ground that will help."

He said the private curling club opening in Anderson will bring visitors for the weekend.

Thacker said next year the Breeder's Cup returns to Hoosier Park, Anderson Speedway is hosting the 75th Lucas Oil Little 500 and the county's bicentennial will have events throughout the county.

The Uranus Fudge Factory is expected to draw more people to Anderson in the future, he said, particularly with their expansion plans.

"We work to promote all the attractions in the county," he said, "there are some hidden gems."

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.