Be A Tourist in Your Own Community
By Ben Hyland

This is part four of a four part series written by Vinton Unlimited.

The purpose of these brief articles is to help acquaint Vinton residents with leisure options that are available right in our own community so we can all become local ‘ambassadors’ so when a visitor might ask “what is there to do in town” each resident can respond with countless suggestions and a sense of community pride.

Tourism is big business in Iowa.  If that’s hard to believe, just look at the numbers.  Spending their money on things like lodging, transportation, and entertainment, tourists added 7.75 billion dollars to the 2013 Iowa economy, according to figures from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  Closer to home, these tourists spent nearly 20 million dollars in Benton County alone, and supported more than 100 local jobs.

When tourists come to Benton County and spend time at attractions like the Braille School, Vinton’s walking tours, or one of the many local parks and campgrounds — they spend money.  This money is spent on lodging at the Cobblestone Inn and the Modern Motel and on dining at places like La Reyna and Tootsie’s.  Tourists buy gas and snacks at John’s Quick Stop, and frequent downtown stores like The Hope Chest and Camerons.

Although a relatively small component of the Benton County economy, tourism is one sector where state officials are seeing promising growth.  In 2006, tourists contributed 14 million dollars to the Benton County economy, according to the IEDA.  In 2012, this figure had jumped to 19 million dollars.  That’s an increase of more than 35% over the course of six years.

To ensure that the Benton County tourism sector continues to experience this impressive growth, Vinton Unlimited and the Destination Vinton group are working relentlessly to foster development and advocate on behalf of the city and county.  We’re organizing bus trips to bring Iowans into Vinton to shop our stores and tour our historic town.  We’re showcasing Vinton in travel magazines and on tourism websites statewide to get the word out that Vinton deserves to be on the map. We’re attracting regional events to fill up our public facilities and events spaces, to boost our tax revenue, and to keep our area economy growing.  We’re doing all of this because it’s our job, and we all stand to gain from promoting what Vinton has to offer.