Two hundred years ago, in the middle of a swampy floodplain forest, a fledgling State of Indiana endeavored to carve out a Capitol city on the banks of the White River and in the ancestral homeland of the Delaware Tribe. Named Indianapolis, or Indiana’s City in the tradition of the polis city-state of the birthplace of Democracy in Ancient Greece, the city was envisioned as the place people from all walks of life in all corners of the State would come together. These people would deliberate the pressing issues of the time and embark on an imperfect, but enduring, march towards the improvement of humankind.
During the ensuing centuries the city’s landscape has grown, its buildings have evolved, its people and its industry have diversified, and the trials and prospects it has faced have been relentless. But the spirit behind its fundamental purpose of bringing people together for the betterment of all remains.
This spirt is reflected in our increasingly unique ability to come together and do more than we could do alone. The memorials to sacrifice that define our public spaces are testament to our ability to sacrifice for a common cause. The international competitions we host are manifestations of our innate desire for improvement. And from front porches and houses of worship to high school gyms and grand stadiums, the image of our city reflects our desire to come together.
These human qualities and their physical expressions are not the product of any intentional decision, but they are also no accident. They are the result of two centuries of imperfect deliberation, democratic expression, and incremental advances in the human condition.
None of these conditions—deliberation, expression, and incremental advances—can be sustained without the essential prerequisite of an open mind. Society has developed many institutions dedicated to opening minds—public education, a free press, and the guarantee of basic rights to name a few. We believe that travel and tourism are more than an economic industry that supports families and communities, more than a means of leisure and recreation, more than just something for visitors. And while we acknowledge travel and tourism has been used, like other institutions, for purposes contrary to their potential, we believe that travel and tourism is an institution necessary to the perfection of democratic ideals and the advancement of humankind. We believe in tourism, with a purpose.