If you think Des Moines is an unlikely destination for vacationers, think again.
In fact, new research suggests that tourism traffic is rising in Iowa’s capital city. In 2016, 13.7 million visitors flocked to the Des Moines region, according to a study by Longwoods International, a market research consultancy.
The research, commissioned by Catch Des Moines, showed 2016 visitor traffic was up nearly 5 percent, or about 600,000 visitors. Overnight trips to Des Moines are up about 10 percent.
“Des Moines has always had the perception of being a great place to raise a family, but people are finding that it’s a great place to visit as well,” Greg Edwards, President and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a news release. “The population boom and influx of young professionals has meant more restaurants, retail, attractions and conventions; and more visiting friends and family who discover Des Moines and spread the word.”
In total, the Longwoods study estimates visitors in 2016 spent a total of $838 million. Overnight visitors spent the most on lodging, followed by food and beverage, while day trippers spent the most on retail purchases.
The study estimated visitor spending generated $2 billion in wider economic impact for the region. Traveler spending generated $32.8 million in tax revenue in 2016 and was responsible for 17,200 jobs, the study found.
“It just goes to show the economic impact that tourism has on our region and how we’ve been able to leverage the growth of the area to help shift outsider perceptions” Edwards said.