Boosting Tourism: Cedar Rapids Welcomes Epics Iowa Road Trip

By Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A bus is making its way to more than 40 communities across Iowa in only nine days.

The Epic Iowa Road Trip started in Southeast Iowa, but on Sunday the bus pulled in to Cedar Rapids. The trip is happening in conjunction with National Travel and Tourism week.

On a sunny Sunday in Eastern Iowa, Newbo City Market is buzzing with activity. People are spending money and picking up their favorite items. In the afternoon, some extra activity rolled into the parking lot of Newbo City Market.

It’s all part of the The Iowa Tourism office’s whirlwind bus tour to show off the state, picking out hot spots for people to visit.

“We have staff on the motor coach who are using social media channels to talk about the places that we are visiting,” said Iowa Tourism Office Manager Shawna Lode.

Newbo City Market Executive Director Kristie Wetjen helped welcome the bus. She said the market is on track to exceed traffic counts from the first year of business.

“Tourism is a big part of what we are trying to build here. We obviously see lots of people from Cedar Rapids, but we are seeing a lot of people from outside the community as well,” Wetjen said.

The Iowa Tourism Office’s goal is to show people what there is to do, right here at home. Many communities depend on visitors and the money they spend.

“Tourism is big businesses for Cedar Rapids. It employs over 6,000 people, and it generates about $400 million annually of people coming and spending money and time in our community,” said Cedar Rapids Area Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Marilee Fowler.

Some people at the market agreed that people should spend more time in Iowa.

”It’s kind of cool to come look around,” said Ben Gilbert Binder who was spending the day at Newbo with his Father.

“There’s a lot more to do in Iowa than many people would think,” said Randy Gilbert.

The tourism team just hopes it’s leaving behind a desire for people to build their own Iowa vacations and to try something new.

The tour will continue for another six days. Among many places, it includes stops in Dubuque, Iowa City, Vinton, Waterloo and Decorah.

l Comments: 319-398-8268; jill.kasparie@kcrg.com

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