Iowa’s tourism industry is urging the governor and state legislature to maintain state spending on programs that promote Iowa as a place to visit or live.

Chelsea Lerud of Burlington is executive director of Iowa Travel Industry Partners or I-TIP. “We cannot rest on our past successes and I-TIP pledges to be a partner to the state,” she says, “showcasing all the wonderful things we are doing.”

Tourism-related spending by the state is at “historic levels” this year, according to Lerud. “Each of these programs have contributed to the growth of our state and it’s helped to attract and retain Iowans,” she says.

Lerud’s group is urging lawmakers to budget another $9 million for state parks as well as $1.5 million for the state tourism office. Those are the spending levels in the current year. Lerud says there’s another $1.5 million for tourism marketing and strategic planning by the Iowa Economic Development Authority in this year’s budget that her group would like to see continued next year, as well as another $10 million worth of grants for community attractions.

According to a state report, there were about 65,000 jobs in Iowa’s tourism industry last year and travelers spent more than $6 billion while visiting Iowa in 2021.

Radio Iowa