The Iowa Tourism Office recently announced the award of a $5,000 grant to the Council Bluffs Convention & Visitors Bureau (CBCVB). The grant will support the 2021 Council Bluffs spring marketing initiative, the CBCVB’s third advertising campaign to attract visitors back to the city and county in the past 12 months.

The spring initiative will target residents of Sioux Falls, SD; St Joseph, MO; and Grand Island, Hastings, & Kearney, NE from February 15 through May 15 to inspire them to visit Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County. It will employ digital ads to reach specific audiences in those cities. The goals are to create 800,000 impressions and drive 10,000 visits to UNleashCB.com, the CBCVB website. The site will entice visitors to plan a trip and book a CB hotel stay. With the grant, the bureau will invest $20,000 in the marketing initiative.

Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and 2019 floods, Council Bluffs lost $348,670.60 in hotel/motel taxes during fiscal years 2019 and 2020, according to data from the Iowa Department of Revenue. That equates to $4,985,712.20 in lost hotel business during that time. What’s more, hotel occupancy declined 33.8 percent from January through October 2020.

“Like so many businesses, organizations, and residents, the pandemic has hit the travel industry hard,” said Patricia LaBounty, president of the CBCVB Board of Directors and curator of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. “This grant will assist the CBCVB’s efforts to bring back out-of-town customers to local businesses and allow hospitality partners to return to full staffing.”

The Iowa Tourism Grant Program received 64 eligible applications requesting more than $282,000 in grant funding. The CBCVB was one of 34 approved applicants for the $150,000 available.

The Council Bluffs Convention & Visitors Bureau serves as a catalyst to grow Pottawattamie County’s visitor economy through collaborative sales and marketing, destination advocacy, and sustainable placemaking activities in order to enhance the region’s quality of life. For more information, visit www.UNleashCB.com.

This post was originally published on December 9, 2020 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.