116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The U.S. Commerce Department has awarded Iowa a $5.3 million grant to pay for tourism and outdoor recreation marketing to encourage out-of-state people to visit Iowa after the pandemic.
Iowa’s grant is part of $314 million in American Rescue Plan State Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation grants to 34 states and the District of Columbia. The grants, announced this week, are intended to help travel, tourism and outdoor recreation industries that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These funds will help increase visitation to Iowa destinations to pre-2020 levels,” said Jessica O’Riley, tourism communications manager for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
“We know that outdoor activities are a key motivator for travelers, and we will continue to promote Iowa’s outdoor assets through initiatives like the State Park Passport, a partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.”
O’Riley said Iowa’s grant will be used to pay for out-of-state travel and tourism marketing as well as “digital technology enhancements” at the four state-owned welcome centers.
“These enhancements will better promote Iowa destination information and provide interactive experiences to travelers,” she said.
All 59 states and territories were invited to apply for the grants, the Commerce Department reported Monday. The grants are meant to be flexible so states can help restore jobs in the tourism industry and provide a safe experience for tourists, the news release states.
Several states, like Iowa, plan to use the money for marketing campaigns.
Oklahoma will use its grant to make improvements to one of its most visited parks, Robbers Cave State Park, the release says. Minnesota will use some of its money to improve infrastructure at public water access points.
Louisiana wants to produce educational materials to highlight and preserve two historical state parks.
So far, Iowa has no plans to use the grant to increase staffing at Iowa’s state parks, DNR spokeswoman Tammie Krausman confirmed.
Visits to Iowa’s state parks boomed to 16.6 million in 2020, following an upward trend since 1995, but increasing dramatically during the pandemic, IowaWatch reported in September. Yet the number of state park rangers serving the growing crowds has gone in reverse and state park funding is flat.
Comments: (319) 339-3157; firstname.lastname@example.org