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Greater Des Moines attracted 13.7M visitors in 2016


The Greater Des Moines region welcomed 13.7 million visitors in 2016 — a new record, reports Consultant Longwoods International, commissioned by Catch Des Moines.

That marks a gain of 5 percent, or about 600,000 visitors, above 2015. Overnight trips to Greater Des Moines have jumped nearly 10 percent over the past five years.

Visitor spending accounted for a record $838 million in 2016, with lodging accounting for the largest chunk of overnight spending, followed by food and beverage. Retail was the main activity for day trips. 

Des Moines has more visits to breweries, festivals, fairs, concerts, museums and sports than various indexes would predict, the consultants said. That could be seen in a 6 percent increase from 2015 levels in the 18-44 age group.

“Des Moines has always had the perception of being a great place to raise a family, but people are finding that it’s a great place to visit as well,” said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of Catch Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Among other findings: 

  • Overall visitor satisfaction was up 11 percent from 2015.
  • Visitor spending generated $2 billion in economic impact for the region, including indirect and induced spending. Visitor spending also generated $32.8 million in tax revenue.
  • Tourism-generated employment reached 17,200 jobs for the region.
  • The travelers came by car or truck in 80 percent of the trips, 13 percent above the national average.
  • The top cities that Des Moines drew residents from for overnight trips were Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque, Kansas City, Omaha, Chicago and Minneapolis.

“Greater Des Moines is being positioned as a practical and appealing urban getaway for our Iowa neighbors and surrounding states, and the research validates what our people have long known: People really love it here,” Edwards said.

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