The Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa presented 27 awards recognizing excellence in the tourism industry October 22 in Fairfield, Iowa during the 2015 Iowa Tourism Conference.
“Iowa is fortunate to have passionate people working hard every day to advance the tourism industry and grow the state’s economy,” said Shawna Lode, manager of the Iowa Tourism Office. “The Iowa Tourism Awards are a way to showcase those efforts and celebrate the successes of the past year.”
Dubuque, Iowa was the recipient of three awards including Outstanding Event, Outstanding Lodging (Metro), and the People’s Choice Award.
Outstanding Event was awarded to America’s River Festival for its efforts in supporting the travel industry in Iowa. 2015’s event, held in the Port of Dubuque on June 12-13, welcomed 12,170 attendees over the two-day festival. Ticket sales (in advance) came from 579 cities, 28 states and 5 countries. New to the festival was the Brewfest which took place Saturday afternoon and welcomed 505 brew enthusiasts. America’s River Festival began in 2005 after the success of the 2004 Grand Excursion and is a collaborative effort between the Dubuque Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, City of Dubuque, Dubuque Initiatives, Dubuque County Historical Society, Dubuque Main Street, Dubuque Racing Association and the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce. This is the second time the event has earned this prestigious award in the past 6 years. It was last awarded in 2009.
Hotel Julien Dubuque received the Outstanding Lodging (Metro) award. This award is given to a for-profit lodging property that demonstrates excellence in supporting and growing tourism in Iowa.
People’s Choice Award went to Dig In! Iowa’s Ag Innovation Tour, a collaboration between the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau, Dubuque Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau and Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. This partnership began in 2013 when these four organizations came together to promote the agriculture market to an international audience. An 8 day, 7 night itinerary was created that stretched across each of the communities along with a website (www.iowaagtours.com), banners and other marketing materials. Since its start, the group has met with international group tour planners, held familiarization tours and garnered attention from international press. The People’s Choice Award was voted on by conference attendees and made up of nominees scoring the second-highest nominations in 12 of the 13 award categories.
“Dubuque is fortunate to have the ability to come together to build long-lasting partnerships that better our community and bring visitors to the area. All three awards are proof of that. We are very proud of Dubuque and see many more successes like these in our future,” stated Keith Rahe, President & CEO of the Dubuque Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The annual Iowa Tourism Conference brings together nearly 300 industry representatives from across the state to network, attend educational sessions and discuss emerging industry trends.
Tourism is an $8 billion industry in Iowa, employing more than 66,500 people statewide and more than 2,830 people in Dubuque County alone. Travel related expenditures for Dubuque County totaled $329.01 million with payroll totaling $50.58 million in 2014, according to the annual Iowa Economic Development Authority Impact of Travel Report.