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Survey: Indianapolis residents support cultural and sports tourism, share safety concerns

Indianapolis residents believe cultural tourism and sports tourism are good for the city's economy and more should be done to promote both kinds of activities, according to an annual survey conducted by the Indiana University Department of Tourism, Conventions and Event Management (TCEM) at IUPUI.

The annual quality-of-life survey examines perceptions of Indianapolis residents on a range of issues, including safety, sense of community, parks and gardens, shopping, transportation and traffic as well as questioning attitudes about cultural and sports tourism.


Listeners relax at the Indianapolis parks department's Eagle Creek Park Family Concert series.

Print-Quality Photo

The survey found a downward trend between 2009 and 2011 when it comes to the number of Indianapolis residents who felt "very safe" in their homes and neighborhoods. The two most common reasons cited for safety concerns were crime and "stranger danger" -- strangers seen in neighborhoods.

In the 2011 survey, 55.6 percent of respondents said they felt very safe at home during the day, compared to 59.4 percent in 2010 and 66.9 percent in 2009. At night, 43.4 percent said they felt very safe in their homes this year, compared to 45.1 percent in 2010 and 48.6 percent in 2009.

Fewer Indianapolis residents (40.2 percent) felt very safe during the day downtown than they did a year ago (45.6 percent). In 2009, 39.5 percent said they felt very safe downtown during the day.

However, more respondents to the survey (23 percent) said they felt very safe downtown at night, compared to the previous year (17.2 percent) or in 2009 (12.3 percent).

Nonetheless, most city residents gave the city, good overall marks or were at least neutral in the 2011 survey when asked how much they agree or disagree with the statement, "I feel a sense of pride in the way Indianapolis looks and feels in regards to no crime." Nearly 50 percent of the respondents said they strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, while 28.9 were neutral. Only 20.5 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.

There is no clear explanation why fewer residents said they felt very safe at home or in their neighborhoods, but seemed to say that for the city, as a whole, crime was not a major problem, said Sotiris Hji-Avgoustis, professor and chair of TCEM. A majority also indicated Indianapolis has a reliable police presence.

Responses to cultural and sports tourism-related questions, Hji-Avgoustis said, show residents are aware of the city's accomplishments in those areas.

"They see tourism as a recipe for economic success and they support using public money for tourism initiatives," he said.

About 75 percent of the respondents said cultural and sports tourism were good for city residents and good for the city's economy. About 75 percent wanted more promotions for sports tourism, while 68 percent said they would like to see more cultural tourism promotions.

The survey of 350 city residents was conducted in September at three festivals -- American Rib Festival, October Fest and Irish Fest -- and at First Friday, a monthly arts event along Massachusetts Avenue. Surveyors also questioned city residents at four events at Lucas Oil Stadium, including a college football game, two NFL games, and a Horseshoe Hall of Fame competition.