Jones Co. Tourism shares success of ‘17

Jones County Tourism held its annual meeting on Jan. 23 at the National Motorcycle Museum. Director Bob Hatcher started the evening off thanking long-time board member Suzanne Willman for her 20-plus years on the board. Willman stepped down at the end of 2017.

Wayne Yanda with the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa gives a brief overview of the museum during the JCTA annual meeting. Those in attendance were treated to a free tour of the facility. (Photos by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “My job is to bring people to Jones County and to your front door. You have to make them get their credit card out.”

     Bob Hatcher, director of Jones County Tourism, spoke those words as to the mission of the Jones County Tourism Association during the Jan. 23 annual meeting held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa.

     Before giving the crowd an overview of JCTA’s happenings in 2017 and looking ahead to 2018, Hatcher honored 23-year JCTA board member Suzanne Willman, saying it was a hard honor to bestow.

     “This is one person who has been with Tourism longer than I have,” Hatcher said as he prepared to present Willman with a certificate for her length of service, a small token of JCTA’s appreciation. “We’ll miss her on our board.”

     As Hatcher has echoed while speaking to the Jones County Supervisors recently, tourists spent over $21.3 million in Jones County in 2017. Hatcher said with a list of roughly 500 places in the county in which tourists can spend money, that comes out to $42,700 a piece.

     “I ask the business people here,” proposed Hatcher, “did you get your share? Because if you didn’t, we’re going to do everything we can to help.”

     Aside from tourists spending money in Jones County, sales tax is also a major indicator of the number of people who flock to the area. Last year, $1.4 million in sales tax went to the State of Iowa. Of that, over $161,000 came back to the county.

     “That’s money you and I don’t have to pay,” said Hatcher.

     One thing JCTA is working to increase is overnight stays in Jones County. Fiscal Year 2017 saw an increase of 16 percent in hotel/motel tax from the previous year. Hatcher said that could be attributed to the new Boulders hotel in Monticello, as well as a general increase throughout the county.

     “We figured 2,150 more people stayed overnight in Jones County than the previous year,” he said.

     A typical travel party in Jones County spends about $430 while they’re staying for more than one day. Hatcher said that’s why pushing overnight stays is important for the local economy.

     JCTA is also increasing its marketing another 50 miles around Jones County to reach areas like Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

     “We count on our marketing and research pretty heavily,” Hatcher said. “We reached 2.5 million people this last year.

     “We’re finding that more and more people from Wisconsin and Michigan are coming and staying with us overnight.” Hatcher said if tourism can attract those who have to drive several hours to get here, chances are, they’ll likely stay overnight.

     “What they come here for takes them about two to three hours to do and the rest of the day they shop and eat,” he said. “They spend money. They want to know what else there is for them to do.”

     Hatcher said people come to visit Jones County for the very same reason people in Jones County travel to other places: “For an experience that you can’t have closer to home.”

     So why do people come to Jones County? Hatcher outlined several attractions and factors:

     • Five golf courses

     • Nine museums

     • 51 parks or places of conservation

     • Over 900 camping spots

     • Two of the best river trails (Maquoketa and Wapsipinicon)

     • 27 annual/holiday events

     As always bus and car tours of the county remain popular. Hatcher said they could take up to eight carloads around the county without losing anyone along the way. Those here on a bus tour tend to spend about $30 while in the area.

     JCTA is also working to familiarize people of Jones County with all that the county has to offer.

     “We found out that people haven’t seen half of what there is to see in Jones County,” shared Hatcher.

     The Tourism Center is located at 221 E. Main St. in Anamosa.


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