After being shuttered for the past two years, Council Bluffs not only reopens its Iowa Welcome Center, but it now has a new home. The Iowa Tourism Office recently announced the Council Bluffs Convention & Visitors Bureau office and visitor center has been designated as an official Iowa Welcome Center effective on January 10.
The welcome center was previously housed at Council Bluffs’ now-closed Western Historic Trails Center. Its new home is located at 509 23rd Ave, on the South Expressway and only half a mile from I-80/29. The move was made possible by transferring a contract from the trails center to the CBCVB. The WHTC had served as a welcome center from 1997 until it suspended operations indefinitely in 2020.
"I am pleased to hear the CBCVB is now an Iowa Welcome Center," said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh. "As Iowa's western gateway, Council Bluffs is well-positioned to welcome visitors and inform them of the many things to see and do here and throughout the state," said Walsh.
The Council Bluffs CVB office and visitor center will serve as one of only 12 partnership Iowa Welcome Centers. The partnership centers are primarily operated by private organizations under an agreement with the Iowa Tourism Office to provide tourism information and services to the traveling public. Examples of other partnership welcome centers include the Okoboji Spirit Center, Arnolds Park and Sgt Floyd River Museum, Sioux City. These 12 centers are in addition to the four Iowa Welcome Centers owned and operated by the state at rest areas on the interstate highway system.
“This is a huge win for Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County,” said Patricia LaBounty, president of the Council Bluffs CVB Board of Directors. “Welcome centers do more than dispense brochures and maps,” said LaBounty. “They prompt travelers to consider extending their stay and in doing so spend more money as a result.”
According to the 2019 Iowa Welcome Center Survey Report, welcome center travel counselors influenced 29.7 percent of visitors to stay longer. Of those, 57.3 percent stayed one additional day or longer, with the average travel party spending $401.31 per day. In 2020, direct visitor spending in Pottawattamie County totaled $213.89 million, as documented in the Iowa Tourism Economic Impact Report by Tourism Economics. The same report indicated $4.6 billion was spent by visitors in Iowa.
The Council Bluffs CVB 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 UNleashCB.com.
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