Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

October 9, 2013

Action plans for tourism being formed

Organizations which participated in a controversial June forum involving tourism expert Roger Brooks recently received the presenter’s full report in regard to improving the vacation industry in Marion County, and are now working on plans to implement his strategies.

Brooks has made a name for himself across the country, and the globe, for being able to provide solutions and suggestions to towns interested in improving themselves. He came to Marion County this summer and was left with the impression that the county’s current tourism revenue of approximately $50 million could be tripled to $150 million.

Carla Eysink, Executive Director of the Marion County Development Commission (MCDC), says that the written report was reviewed at a quarterly tourism meeting on Sept. 30. She said the written report was similar to the workshop, but also included additional action items.

These actions were divided among short-term and long-term goals. Costs involved with implementing these changes and recommendations were key factors in determining completion dates and priority. By the first of December, when the tourism group meets again, Eysink hopes there is a rough timeline for completing these projects and finding a “champion” for each one to see them through.

One recommendation made by Brooks was to make information about Marion County attractions available 24/7/365. Eysink hopes to install approximately 20 information stands around the county, to fill with brochures and other tourism information. The “champion” for this project will also check on them routinely to ensure they are stocked and in good order. Locations for these have not been determined.

These information centers are expected to cost a little over $2,000, which Eysink believes will quickly turn a profit in terms of tourism income to the county. They offer the opportunity to “cross-sell” Marion County communities and attractions.

The county’s tourism website will also include a link to the “101 Gems of Marion County,” another suggestion by Brooks. Eysink said a grant from the Iowa Tourism Office has been applied for to pay for this project.

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