The economic downturn apparently hasn’t stopped travelers from spending more money in Iowa. Jessica O’Riley, with the Iowa Tourism Office, says results from the 2008 Iowa Welcome Center Survey indicate spending rose by 15.3%. The report shows travel party spending rose from $223 per day in 2007 to nearly $258 in 2008.

The survey, conducted at Iowa Welcome Centers , asked travelers about their expenses on lodging, entertainment, transportation, food and shopping. O’Riley says the increase in spending might indicate that people are taking shorter trips and staying closer to home.

“Which, I think, plays very well for Iowa,” O’Riley said. “You may not come here for a week, but you certainly can spend every weekend doing something and I think that’s what we’re seeing is people are just getting out and sort of exploring their own back yard or neighboring states.”

There are 19 Iowa Welcome Centers across the state. O’Riley says employees helped extend the stay of 355 of the estimated 500,000 travelers that stopped at an Iowa Welcome Center in 2008.

“That’s by them visiting with the traveler and saying ‘did you know this winery is also on your way?’ and they could extend their stay by two hours, four hours or even a day,” O’Riley explained.