There was more spending on travel and recreation in Iowa last year. Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham says several measures of tourism related income were higher last year than the year prior.
“Two-thousand-eleven 2011 expenditures in Iowa were up, (as were) travel generated employment in Iowa and generated state sales tax receipts,” Durham said. “I’m very pleased with the new marketing initiatives.” Durham spoke Tuesday at a statehouse budget hearing. She said tourism promoters used more social media last year and the department hired a new advertising agency.
Looking ahead to future tourism opportunities, Durham said the department will change the way it markets RAGBRAI because of last summer’s extreme heat. “We did decide after it was 110 (degrees) last year that we are going to promote it more as a tough man, woman contest kind of thing,” Durham said.
“Are you tough enough to ride RAGBRAI? It’s definitely not the ones who do a bike trail on Saturday morning.” Durham’s agency uses the annual bicycle ride across Iowa to introduce interested employers to the state and she said they were lucky this year’s participants were seasoned athletes.
Durham is requesting a bigger marketing budget for the state next year. Data from the Iowa Tourism Office indicates, in 2011, travelers in and to Iowa spent $7.2 billion – a 10.3% increase from 2010. That spending generated $328.8 million in state tax revenue and the travel industry supported 63,400 jobs.