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Anticipated Iowa Memorial Day tourism still below pre-pandemic numbers

Iowa’s tourism industry is touting a significant if not complete recovery from the low levels experienced during last summer’s pandemic precautions.

In an email to The Center Square, the Iowa Economic Authority’s Travel Iowa Communications Manager Jessica O’Riley referenced an estimate provided by AAA Travel, which predicts a 60% increase in Memorial Day Weekend travel between May 27 and May 31.

“Travelers to Iowa are up 63.3% for the time period of May 1-25, 2021 over the same time period in 2020,” O’Riley said. “However, we haven’t caught up yet to pre-pandemic levels of 2019.  We are down 11.0% for the same time period (2019 vs. 2021). Travel is definitely on the rebound.”

Quoting AAA information, O’Riley said more than 37 million people are anticipated to travel 50 miles or more from home in Iowa this weekend.

“Over the next several months, acknowledging the pent-up demand and growing confidence to hit the road for travel, the Iowa Tourism Office is taking the opportunity to highlight the state’s tourism assets through a variety of initiatives,” O’Riley said.

AAA Travel said another factor contributing to the expected increase in travel this holiday is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently updated guidance that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves, while taking proper precautions.

It’s important to keep in mind that some local and state travel restrictions may still remain in place, however, according to a AAA Travel news release.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel, said in a statement, adding the increased weekend travel “is a strong indicator for summer.”

The Travel Federation of Iowa estimates tourism generated $9 billion of spending in the state in 2018. Those tourist expenditures contributed $517.5 million in tax revenues to the state. TFI also estimates tourists spent $24.6 million per day in 2018, and the tourism supports more than 70,000 Iowa jobs with a combined payroll of $1.45 billion.

This article was originally posted on Anticipated Iowa Memorial Day tourism still below pre-pandemic numbers

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