Iowa Travel Industry Partners (iTIP), a statewide organization representing the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, has hired Chelsea Lerud as its Executive Director. Lerud has been serving as the organization’s Interim Director since August 2021.
“Chelsea has proven herself as an outstanding leader in Iowa’s tourism industry and has helped the Iowa Travel Industry Partners (iTIP) accomplish many lofty goals in our first year,” said Rebecca Peters, iTIP President and Director of Okoboji Tourism. “We are excited to name her as executive director to continue to lead iTIP and support Iowa’s travel industry.”
iTIP launched as a statewide tourism association in July 2021. Since then, the Board of Directors has worked hard to create programming and important resources for Iowa’s tourism industry. All the projects accomplished by iTIP so far have been possible due to the valuable partnerships created by iTIP’s inaugural membership base.
As part of an industry-wide strategic sector plan in 2015, a goal was outlined to improve collaboration, partnerships, and expertise amongst stakeholders. These stakeholders have worked for the last several years to mold this concept into the Iowa Travel Industry Partners Association and Foundation.
This new association aligns with a recommendation from the Governor’s Economic Growth Subgroup of Hospitality and Tourism. It is recommended that industry professionals develop a public/private organization to represent the interests of Iowa’s tourism industry as part of a statewide strategic plan for tourism, including investment strategy.
With the leadership of five iTIP committees, iTIP has hosted multiple in person and virtual professional development sessions, launched an Economic Impact Calculator as well as worked with Cornerstone Government Affairs to bring tourism into legislative session conversations. Membership was engaged in group tour recruitment and goals planning for the future of the organization. Partnerships are being built with other hospitality industry associations, including the Iowa Tourism Office, to show the power of ‘one vision, one mission, one voice’ for the entire industry.
“It has been exciting to be a part of iTIP’s inaugural year”, stated Lerud. “It is amazing when you stop to reflect on the accomplishments of the organization in the last nine months. I’m so glad I have been on the team that is helping to shape the future of Iowa’s tourism and hospitality industry. I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum to lead the industry forward.”