DUBUQUE, Iowa - This time of year you might not think of Iowa as "the place to be" for tourists. Because of snow, ice and freezing temps, winter is typically Iowa's slow season for tourism. But tourism directors in Dubuque are revealing their efforts to bring visitors to their community right now.
On a rainy February day, it's fairly quiet at the National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium. But the Clarke family from Lisbon is here, taking it all in.
Corey Clarke said, "It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I've always wanted to be here at the museum. "
The months of November through April are generally slower here at the museum. That's just as it is for many of Iowa's tourist attractions.
So to keep visitors coming to Dubuque when the weather isn't exactly inviting, tourism directors have to get creative.
Dubuque Convention and Visitors' Bureau President, Keith Rahe said, "We think of what can we do to work with our partners to try to come up with new types of events on the weekends that could bring people in here. "
In dreary November, the Vsitors' Bureau hosted the Dock Dogs World championships. 3500 hundred people from all over the United States spent time and money in Dubuque.
"We saw a 20 percent increase in occupancy that weekend over the previous five years, " said Rahe.
2800 workers are employed in the Dubuque County tourism industry, with an annual payroll of $48 million, directors say this isn't just fun and games. It's also economic development.
Rahe said, "This growth that we're seeing in people visiting our area, this is huge for the local people in regards to helping with the taxes. "
On February 23 and 24th, the Dubuque Convention and Visitors' Bureau will host what they are calling "Hogs Gone Wild", a motorcycle fan festival. Rahe expects 1000 visitors to Dubuque.