By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
It’s safe to say that Jones County Tourism had a decent year for 2012!
During the annual meeting for Jones County Tourism, Director Bob Hatcher gave the Board and those present updated figures that reflect increases from 2011. The annual meeting was held at Calkins Barn in Wyoming.
For 2012, visitors to Jones County spent $20.45 million. This is an increase of $2.55 million from 2011, or a 14 percent increase. Per day, visitors spent about $250. Money is being spent on transportation, food, entertainment, lodging and shopping, to which Hatcher said is the biggest expense.
“We had a record year last year,” remarked Hatcher. “Take a look at the profit margin, then ask yourself what would happen if you take $20 million away?”
When it comes to attractions, Hatcher said he is getting calls about the Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest, Camp Courageous, the penitentiary museum, J&P Cycles and the National Motorcycle Museum.
“People want to experience something they couldn’t otherwise,” said Hatcher, “but closer to home.”
Visitors also spent $1.14 million in state and local taxes. Hatcher explained this all contributes to the well being on Jones County. Of every dollar spent here, 4.5 cents is collected in state taxes. This comes to .0075 cents in local taxes.
Jones County ranks in the top half of Iowa’s 99 counties when it comes to visitor’s expenditures. Jones County is number 44. This is five places higher than where Jones County ranked in 2011.
“This spot needs to move into the top 30 to bring in $30-plus million in visitor spending,” said Hatcher.
Tourism in Jones County helps create 110 jobs. These range from seasonal to part-time and year-round, depending on the scope of the job. The payroll for these jobs creates $1.9 million.
Hotels and motels in the county brought in $77,101.43 in hotel/motel taxes. This money stays in Anamosa, where the hotels and motels are located. The figure is up, though, by 19 percent over 2011. Jones County Tourism received $15.40 out of every hotel/motel dollar spent.
“We need to capture more of these funds to increase our advertising budget,” commented Hatcher. “We are the only organization that works solely to put more heads in beds and increase the hotel/motel revenue that Jones County receives.”
Jones County Tourism has an advertising budget that helps to attract visitors to the area. The organization’s all-print media budget for 2012 was $5,000. Hatcher said this reaches about a 200-mile radius outside of the county.
While print advertising has its advantages, Hatcher said he realizes that social media and the Internet are growing when it comes to advertising. Jones County Tourism has dedicated funds to upgrade their website and develop more of a presence online.
To become a part of all the great things associated with Jones County Tourism, become a member! For small businesses, the fee is $50 a year. You can also volunteer by keeping the tourism office informed about what’s going on in and around your communities here in Jones County. Encourage state and local representatives to look into increasing their funding towards tourism.