The U.S. Travel Association reports that Pottawattamie County realized $312.9 million in travel expenditures in 2017. Pottawattamie was among the top 10 counties in Iowa for travel expenditures last year. The county saw a 3.5 percent increase compared to 2016—a higher growth rate than the state average of 3.3 percent.

Hotel occupancy in Council Bluffs follows this rising trend with an increase from 63.9 percent in fiscal year 2017 to 67 percent in fiscal year 2018. Council Bluffs also brought in more than $2.7 million in hotel/motel tax receipts in fiscal 2018, an increase just shy of 3.4 percent over the prior year.

“Growth in tourism is great news for Council Bluffs and the county,” said Bill Vanderpool, president of the Council Bluffs Convention & Visitors Bureau (CBCVB) Board of Directors and general manager of the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites at Ameristar.

Past president of the CBCVB Board Deb Bass added, “Tourism drives more customers to our businesses, infusing more money into the local economy and creating hospitality jobs for our residents.”

In addition to the positive tourism news, the bureau recently purchased a new office building that will double as a visitor center. The new office will be located at 509 23rd Ave., making the office more accessible for visitors driving on I-80 and I-29. The new location will open sometime in the spring of 2019.

Council Bluffs’ and the CBCVB’s tourism accolades in the past year go beyond financials with recognition as an “Outstanding Community” and for an “Outstanding Website” by the Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa in October 2017. continues to grow in traffic, up 23 percent from fiscal year 2017 and up over 100 percent from just three years ago in fiscal year 2015.

The organization has continued to improve the website with additions of 360-degree photos showing off popular venue spaces and an improved event submission process to better collect city and county happenings for the community.

This post was originally published on January 15, 2019 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.