Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition was pleased to join the Iowa Travel Industry Partners association in gathering with statewide partners for Tourism Legislative Night with Iowa’s elected officials on January 18, 2022. Conversations taking place at Wooly’s in Downtown Des Moines focused on the importance of tourism to Iowa’s economy. Bipartisan members of the Iowa Senate and Iowa House of Representatives attended the event.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the state. According to Tourism Economics report on the Economic Impact of Tourism on Iowa, 2020 travelers in Iowa generated $4.6 billion in revenue, supported over 60,000 jobs, and generated payroll income of $1.5 billion throughout the state. In Iowa, these dollars in turn generated more than $864 million in state and local tax revenue.
“Bicycle tourism in Iowa generates over $1 million per day. We know there is a strong economic impact surrounding bicycling. We look forward to working with our tourism partners to help expand trails and bike tourism in Iowa,” says Wyatt.
The tourism and hospitality industry has been decimated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa experienced a 29% decline in visitor spending over 2019 collections, which lead to a $500 billion loss in travel spending across the nation. According to the US Travel Association, the industry is expected to see full recovery to 2019 visitor spending levels by 2024. The industry is starting to see some recovery, but much work is still left to be done. Increased tourism investment will lead to a healthier economy and a strong workforce for the entire state. Top priorities discussed throughout the evening included:
- Support Community Placemaking efforts through ARPA funds and general fund appropriations.
- Increase funding for tourism initiatives such as the Iowa Tourism Office within the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Community Attraction and Tourism Grants, Regional Sports Authority Districts, and the Sports Tourism Fund.
- Support Iowa’s current earliest school start date of August 23 to allow the tourism
industry to generate revenue to pay for education. In 2020, tourism generated $864 million in state and local tax revenues which support the state’s education system.
Tourism Legislative Night was hosted in partnership with multiple statewide tourism associations and organizations, including the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, the Field of Dreams, RAGBRAI, Iowa Restaurant Association, Iowa Gaming Association, Iowa Golf Council, and Iowa Bicycle Coalition with support by Travel Dubuque, Experience Waterloo, Catch Des Moines, and Visit Quad Cities. iTIP is committed to forming a united front with collaboration essential to continued growth of the industry.