Gov. Terry Branstad joined state tourism officials Monday in touting Iowa as a vacation destination even though he admitted he’ll be leaving later this week for a family getaway in Arizona.
The Iowa Tourism Office used the governor’s weekly news conference to announce the kick off of a spring advertising campaign with television and digital ads designed to inspire travelers from Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas City, and Omaha to visit Iowa.
However, the discussion quickly turned to an item on the governor’s weekly schedule indicating he would be leaving Friday for a personal vacation in Arizona. The governor told reporters that he, his wife and his daughter’s family will be heading south to spend nearly a week at a time-share residence in Sonoma, Ariz., something they also did last year.
Branstad quickly noted that he and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds plan again this year to visit all 99 Iowa counties and he has actively promoted and engaged in taking mini-vacations in Iowa during his time in office. He also noted he has a vacation home on Lake Panorama near Panora and expects his family will spend time there this year as well.
“I can you that I’m going to spend a lot more time here,” the governor said.
“There are a lot of fun things to do and see in Iowa,” he added.
Iowa’s Tourism Office is spending $1.5 million for a combined ad buy to run from March to June in neighboring states to lure visitors to Iowa. The payback is considerable, Branstad noted, with visitors spending nearly $8 billion in Iowa annually at attractions that generate more than $300 million in revenue for the state and employs about 64,400 people statewide.
Shawna Lode, manager of the Iowa Tourism Office, said her office recently completed a major overhaul of the Travel Iowa web site adding several news pages meant to inspire potential travelers with a range of interests, from history and culture to hunting to outdoor recreation to wine and beer. The ad campaign is intended to drive traffic to TravelIowa.com.