Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA) has been building its relationships with the UK travel trade in the past month. ICVA Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Warren Wilkinson told Travel Daily that it was using the Indy 500 motorsport event to increase interest in the destination. “The UK is the market we want to develop and we can leverage the 500 to offer golf breaks and a city destination,” he explained. “We have worked with golf tour operators to educate them and we will hold a fam trip for them next year. Other tour operators visited us in May to watch the Indy 500 including Bon Voyage and Jetset.” He also revealed that an agents training programme for Indianapolis could be developed in the future. In addition, Wilkinson hopes that the notoriety of the Indy 500 will generate interest amongst Brits. “There are 3,000 Brits who have season tickets for racing and many come over for the Moto GP so even without any marketing we have been told that hundreds of bookings are coming through,” he said. “Once the operators are aware of the city, it is on the shelves and awareness is created, plus after we hold the Superbowl, we hope to see 5, 000 to 10, 000 Brits coming to Indinapolis a year.” To meet this figure, the city has upped its airport infrastructure. “We have a new US2.1 billion airport, (the first to be built post 9/11) which opened about a year ago,” explained Wilkinson. “Although there are no direct flights yet, I believe we will in the next three or four years. People find their way there as around 25-30% of traffic for Indy 500 is international and about 8.5 million passengers pass through in a year.” As a result the city is to open the world’s largest JW Marriott in February, which will have 1625 rooms. Wilkinson said other hotels have been renovated in the last two years to compete with the new property. “We usually see people come over for five nights but hotels are competitively priced so it has [some of] the best hotel value in the US,” he explained. “People could stay longer because it is affordable. The city is also affordable in terms of meals and shopping, it’s around 30-40% cheaper than New York.” Meanwhile, Wilkinson added that he believes the new ESTA fee will not deter people from visiting the US. “I think that things need to be done to make sure the information that is collected is done in a more efficient manner, but US$14 is not a barrier to entry,” he said.