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Survey: Overnight Stays For Iowa Travelers Fall

Dave DeWtte

The Gazette

February 1, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

   Travelers visiting Iowa’s state welcome centers spent more on transportation and less on lodging last year, a possible consequence of higher gas prices, state officials say.

   The average travel party spent $208.55 per day while visiting Iowa. The overall expenditure was up $2.83, about 1.4 percent over the previous year.

   Spending growth did not flow evenly to all travel needs, however. Transportation spending, which includes gasoline, was up $6.57 per day, while spending for overnight lodgings fell by $2.79 per day.

   ‘‘This indicates more people are day-tripping,’’ said Tonja Richards, spokeswoman for the tourism division of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. ‘‘They’re traveling closer to home, but they’re still traveling.’’

   The vast majority of travelers came from within Iowa and from surrounding states, Richards said.

   The survey found little evidence that travelers stayed longer in Iowa than last year, one of the chief objectives of the state’s tourism program. However, 30 percent of travelers extended their stays from their original plans after receiving information from the centers on travel attractions and events.

   Trips averaged four days, about the same as last year. Vacationers made up 47 percent of the travelers surveyed, the largest traveler segment.

   The Davis City Welcome Center was the busiest, with over 34,000 travel parties visiting.

   Only 13 of the 19 welcome centers in the state took part in the survey.