Visitors Center succeeding in communicating city’s appeal

If you live in Columbus, by now you have likely heard that the city is known for its architecture. But if you’ve wondered what kind of general appeal it has, especially to visitors, consider a few facts about last year:

•About 10,000 people took architectural tours.

•More than 20,000 guests stopped at the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

103,315 people attended 77 sports tournaments.

People are visiting Columbus in record numbers thanks to the decades-long architectural tours, ongoing sports tournaments and other attractions, such as the Miller House tours. In fact, 4,029 Miller House tours were conducted last year.

Not only do these attractions spread the word about Columbus, but they also have a significant economic impact. Hotel room sales reached a record $31.1 million last year, a 4.5 percent increase from 2014. Every dollar spent by visitors, projected at $256 million last year, reverberates through the local economy.

A common tie in this appeal is the work of the Columbus Area Visitors Center to promote the city and its attractions. In fact, its various promotion strategies reached an estimated 20 million people in 2015, spreading the message of Columbus far and wide. Last year the Columbus Area Visitors Center website hosted 156,000 visitors. This year the visitors center paid $50,000 as part of a $500,000 Indiana tourism campaign, resulting in a 30-second commercial that highlights the city’s attractions and airing in the Indianapolis and Chicago markets.

Of course, the appeal of Columbus isn’t the work of only one organization. Many groups, individuals and volunteers play a key role. A strong partnership with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, for example, has helped the sports tourism program thrive. Also, upstart groups such as Landmark Columbus, an organization that tends to the city’s artistic and architectural sites, are also contributing.

However, the Columbus Area Visitors Center has proved to be a solid anchor partner in the effort to make the city attractive to visitors.