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State unveils Rolling Billboards to Promote Iowa Destinations

BY QUENTIN MISIAG | JULY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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The State Capitol, waterparks, a NASCAR speedway, and Kinnick Stadium are just a few of the aspects travelers will soon begin to see while traveling across Iowa’s 99 counties.

But travelers may not have to drive to Des Moines, Newton, or Iowa City to witness them.

Rather, they are plastered across the sides of semi-trucks delivering wine, beer, and spirits through hundreds of cities and towns.

The Iowa Tourism Office and nine Convention and Visitors Bureaus announced Monday a partnership with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division to provide rolling billboards that encourage travel in Iowa.

Nine such trucks have been wrapped with images from Ames, Burlington, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City/Coralville, Newton, Okoboji, Sioux City, and Waterloo.

In addition to the attractions exclusive to each community, each truck also carries graphics promoting Iowa travel in general.

“Traveling takes many forms — watching your son or daughter play in a soccer tournament out-of-town, visiting friends and family, or just getting away from it all,” Gov. Terry Branstad said in the release. “You don’t have to go far to make a lasting memory with your family, and there’s plenty to do right here in Iowa.”

Other Iowa Tourism Office images include the Maquoketa Caves in Maquoketa, Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Okoboji, the Loess Hills in western Iowa, and Sky Tours Ziplines in Dubuque.

Locally, Iowa City and Coralville teamed up with North Liberty for “three times the fun.” The truck promotes festivals, theater, and Hawkeye football.

Iowa Tourism manager Shawna Lode said the nine communities were chosen based on being named an Iowa Great Place and by having a local convention and visitors bureau office. In all, 20 communities in Iowa have a convention and visitor’s bureau center, so approval came on a first-come, first-served basis.

She said the program has proven to be a success after the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for promotion of the Honey Creek Resort State Park on Rathbun Lake, and the Iowa Lottery, among others.

Having the state be largely dominated by automobile travel means the partnership can garner high exposure periods.

“They will travel 1.6 million miles annually; that’s millions of exposure throughout the state throughout the year,” Lode said. “Tourism in Iowa is very strong, despite economic challenges, when people are forced to make decisions about their travel, we are an affordable time away with their family.”

The truck fleet includes two 24-feet trailers, each costing $3,000, and seven larger trucks: four at 45 feet, two at 48 feet, and one at 53 feet, each costing at $5,500 each. The cost for the trailers is split evenly among the partnering communities and the Iowa Tourism Office.

Tourism in Iowa generates more than $7 billion in expenditures, employs 63,400 people statewide, and generates $328 million in state taxes, Lode said.

The Iowa Tourism Office is part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. 

Lode said the state’s target market for tourism dollars is each contiguous state.

Dating back to 2008, she said the majority of outside tourists from the state hail from the Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Omaha metropolitan areas. 

Tonya Dusold, the communications director for the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, said the idea for the program was born in 2007 year to find a useful purpose for the numerous white truck trailers carrying wine and spirits across the state.

To date, she said there are 1,250 delivery points statewide that deliver alcohol to liquor, convenience, and grocery stores, which then in turn ship to area bars and restaurants.

Nearly all 99 counties are served each week.

Communities can send in requests to have the trucks stationed at area festivals, concerts, and fairs to showcase local attractions.

She said she has yet to receive a request from the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Representatives from the bureau were unavailable for comment as of Tuesday evening.

“I think that promoting tourism in Iowa benefits all Iowans,” Lode said. “Whether it’s traveling with other Iowans or bringing in other residents from neighboring states, it all matters. Iowa has a lot to do, a lot to offer; sometimes we just sometimes need a little reminder of that.”


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