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INDIANAPOLIS — The convention business in Indianapolis is almost what it was pre-pandemic, say leaders of Visit Indy.

In a State of Tourism this week Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops tells Inside Indiana Business that between the NCAA Tournament, GenCon, The PRI trade show, and the National FFA Convention, Indianapolis saw a huge comeback in convention and tourism business in 2021 from the 2020 pandemic shutdowns.

“We got most of the major shows back last year,” Hoops said. “It all started because we were able to work with Marion County public health and the state public health going back to July of 2020.”

Hoops said most events held in 2021 went off without a hitch as far as the pandemic is concerned, resulting in increased confidence from other organizations that Indy can safely host conventions despite the ever-present concern over COVID spread.

Though the pandemic was a tough time for the convention business, Hoops said it has also led to new opportunities.

“We had some shows that we didn’t anticipate (in 2021,” he said. “Like the Sweets and Snack Show from the National Confectioners Association. That was a Chicago annual for decades, but they determined they couldn’t meet in the spring of 2021 in Chicago under the state of Illinois rules.”

They looked to Indianapolis to sub in and Hoops says confectioners were so impressed that Indianapolis could land the show again in the near future.

Looking ahead to 2022, Hoops expects things to be “90-percent” back to normal if you measure 2019 as the last “normal” year for Indy’s convention business. he says the numbers really depend on where we go with the COVID pandemic.