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By BARBARA BROSHER
An Indianapolis tourism group says the fallout from RFRA cost the city at least $60 million.
At least a dozen conventions cited RFRA as a reason for not choosing Indianapolis as a host city on Visit Indy’s annual survey.
Republican lawmakers have said the fix they passed last year would repair any damage done by the controversy.
But Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl says that remains to be seen.
“Ultimately 2016 will be a telltale for Indianapolis tourism as we see really truly the impact unfolding into the third and fourth quarter of this year based on the lingering impact and the way people consume information and then ultimately decide whether or not they’re going to come to Indianapolis for business,” Gahl says.
Visit Indy also asked meeting decision-makers about their perceptions of Indianapolis seven months after RFRA passed. The survey asked what Indianapolis had been in the news for recently and 58 percent of respondents said they recalled stories about RFRA and LGBT issues.
“Anytime Indianapolis is in the news, and the state is in the news, for anything controversial or anything that’s potentially polarizing like this topic, we know there is an impact on the perception of Indianapolis,” Gahl says. “Some will view us as inhospitable, unfortunately. Some will view us as unwelcoming. We know that’s not the case.”
Gahl says the current debate over LGBT rights is also hurting Indiana’s reputation and could ultimately cost the state more money.
Some of those bills will be debated in senate committee Wednesday.