PELLA — Tourism means money. In Marion County's case it means a lot of money.
Tourism revenue for Marion County in 2010 totaled $40.58 million, placing the county 24th in the state. Polk County had the highest in the state, with $1.49 billion.
Marion County's numbers show growth over 2009, when tourism revenue was at $35.99 million. The 2010 figure is the highest for tourism spending in the county in the past 16 years.
Tourism dollars in the county have steadily risen since 1994, when it accounted for $14.48 million. Since then, tourism revenue has increased a whopping 180 percent.
Marion County Economic Development Executive Director Carla Eysink said tourism is a function of how much disposable income people have. Vacationing in Marion County is more affordable than trips across the country or around the world. Iowa tourism is very dependent on its own state population, In 2010, 57.8 percent of Iowa's tourism dollars came from Iowans.
Domestic travelers spent $6.6 billion in Iowa in 2010, an 8.5 percent increase from 2009, according to www.traveliowa.com. The percentage of increase for Iowa was greater than that of the nation, which stood at 7.4 percent.