Dear Editor:

The Iowa travel and hospitality industry, which naturally relies on people moving from place to place, was impacted to the tune of a 46.1% decline in employment as a direct result of the pandemic. This is the largest decline experienced by any industry. Now is the right time to step up to get people moving again.

In 2020, visitor spending in Iowa decreased by 29% which led to the hospitality industry experiencing a 24% decline in GDP and a 2.3% overall decline in the economy. Hotel/motel tax collections experienced a 24.5% decline from 2019. As a comparison, the industry typically experiences a 3-5% growth each year. It is a long road to recovery and bold action will be needed to achieve recovery.

Research has shown that given the pandemic, travelers are looking for experiences where they can feel safe and socially distanced. Iowa can capitalize on these travelers with its abundance of outdoor recreation, many attractions, great museums, delicious restaurants, amazing communities, and hidden gems that attract over $6 billion in annual visitor expenditures to Iowa’s economy. Despite the challenges of 2020, tourism generated $864 million in state and local taxes, which is enough to support the average salaries of over 15,000 public school teachers.

Governor Reynolds, along with the Iowa Tourism Office and Iowa Economic Development Authority, launched a multimedia ad campaign in September to generate awareness of Iowa’s destinations and communities and to prioritize tourism recovery and workforce recruitment. The “This is Iowa” campaign, an evolution of existing messaging, includes an amped-up creative approach deployed on a larger scale than ever before to increase the visibility of Iowa and to serve as a catalyst for tourism which positively impacts Iowa’s economy

On behalf of Iowa’s travel and hospitality industry, Iowa Travel Industry Partners (iTIP) applauds Governor Reynolds, along with the Iowa Tourism Office and Iowa Economic Development Authority, for the bold leadership in launching the “This Is Iowa” campaign on a national scale. The iTIP membership of museums, arts, destinations, casinos, restaurants, hotels, attractions, and golf courses understands this is a vital step in recovery and promoting our great state. The campaign sends a message to people across the country to jump in the car and take the next family road trip to Iowa.

Thank you, Governor Reynolds for inspiring exploration and spurring growth in Iowa’s travel and hospitality economy. iTIP members are excited to welcome travelers to their individual destinations and help create lasting memories.

Chelsea Lerud
Interim Director
Iowa Travel Industry Partners (iTIP)

Sources: Federal Reserve Economic Data from St. Louis Federal Reserve, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tourism Economics, Iowa Department of Revenue

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