In 2011, tourism spending in Marion County totaled $45.96 million, a 13.25 percent increase over 2010.
Tourism in 2010 was adversely affected by flooding. Camp sites were among the areas hit. Totals from 2010 were at $40.58 million.
Carla Eysink, Executive Director of the Marion County Development Commission, said people are drawn to Marion County due to its attractions and reasonably priced accommodations.
“The campgrounds are huge,” Eysink said. Each weekend, tourists who use the campgrounds can have a significant economic impact. Even though racing in Knoxville, and most camping, can be easily affected by the weather, Marion County has continued to maintain growth. Tourism revenue has increased every year, with the exception of 2001.
That revenue also leads to jobs. $5.6 million of payroll received in Marion County can be tied to tourism. Tourism raised $2.18 million in state tax receipts and $360,000 in local tax receipts.
Eysink credits some of the growth to the improvements at North Overlook Beach, which opened in 2011. The beach was closed much of the summer of 2012, due to high bacteria counts.
Other attractions, such as the Scholte House and National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum continue to bring in tourists. These places often receive repeat customers, as they often change their featured exhibits.
The addition of the Cobblestone Inn in Knoxville will benefit the 2012 totals and in the years to come. With more hotel rooms available in Marion County, there will be less of a need for people to stay in adjacent counties.
“It's a great addition to have,” Eysink said.
The development commission continues to try to maintain and improve tourism numbers in Marion County. Eysink said the commission has nearly completed its 2013 travel guide, an annual publication that features the county's popular attractions. For the first time, it will be available both online and on one's mobile device.
Eysink is attending the Iowa Tourism Conference this week at Prairie Meadows. She has also been reappointed to the Travel Federation of Iowa Board. This board has three representatives and one director from each region of the state. Marion County is in the central region.
“It's a pretty big deal as far as our sectors go,” Eysink said.