Every year the Research Department of the U.S. Travel Association conducts a study for the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Tourism Office to record the economic impact of travel on Iowa counties. 

According to the latest report, tourism-related expenditures in Iowa reached $9.26 billion in 2019, a three percent increase over 2018. Tourism in Iowa employs more than 70,700 people and generates more than $540 million in state tax receipts. 

U.S. residents traveling in Iowa include both state residents and out-of-state visitors traveling away from home overnight in paid accommodations, or on any overnight and day trips to places fifty miles or more away from home. Commuting to and from work; travel by those operating an airplane, bus, truck, train or other form of common carrier transportation; military travel on active duty; and travel by students away at school are all excluded from the model. In addition, the payroll and employment estimates represent impact generated in the private sector and exclude government supported payroll and employment.

Domestic travel expenditures include foodservice (restaurants, grocery stores and other eating and drinking establishments), lodging (hotels and motels, campgrounds, and ownership or rental of vacation or second homes), public transportation (air, intercity bus, rail, boat or ship, and taxicab or limousine service), auto transportation (privately-owned vehicles that are used for trips, gasoline stations, and automotive rental), retail (gifts, clothes, souvenirs, and other incidental retail purchases), entertainment and recreation.

In 2019 Domestic Travel Expenditures in Madison County totaled $15,870,000, an increase of $560,000 or 3.65 percent over 2018, and an increase of $1.57 million or 10.68 percent over 2017. Madison County has consistently outpaced the state of Iowa’s travel expenditure percentage increases since 2017. 

In 2019, tourism also supported 70 travel-related jobs in Madison County (up 3 percent), $1.42 million in payroll (up 4.4 percent), $1.11 million in state tax receipts (up 5.4 percent), and $150,000 in local tax receipts (up 3.9 percent). There has also been a steady increase in hotel/motel tax revenue, which totaled $40,821 in 2019.

Revenue generated by local tourism is used to help support regional parks, economic development, arts and culture, education, roads, public safety, affordable housing and workforce development, among other community programs. Tourism helps promote the preservation and improvement of Madison County’s assets and resources. Investments in tourism also provide access to funding sources, such as grants through the IEDA and Iowa Great Places.