Iowa City invests $250,000 in pandemic relief to boost tourism

“We are just starting to see the return of some of these tourism sectors,” says the head of the visitors’ bureau.

Iowa City Sends $250,000 in Pandemic Relief to Boost Tourism
Iowa City Sends $250,000 in Pandemic Relief to Boost Tourism

Hilton Garden Inn in Iowa City (The Gazette)

Josh Shamberger, President of Think Iowa City (The Gazette)

Iowa City. Iowa City is investing $250,000 in pandemic relief funds to boost tourism and economic activity in the city.

The Iowa City Council unanimously agreed Monday night to provide $250,000 to Think Iowa City, formerly the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Half of the funds will replace tax revenue from hotels and motels that were supposed to go to Think Iowa City but were lost during the pandemic.

Tax revenue from hotels and motels in Iowa City totaled $292,012 between April 2019 and March 2020, according to the city. Between April 2020 and March 2021, revenue fell to $165,577 during the pandemic.

The other half of the grant will be used for tourism and visitor recovery grants to be launched later this year.

I think Iowa City will use the program to fund conferences, tournaments and special events, the city’s memorandum says.

ARPA funds

Iowa City receives $18.3 million from the American Plan of Rescue Act.

The City Council has used the money for a variety of priorities, including financial assistance to the arts, culture and tourism industries.

Iowa City officially approved about $3.5 million in ARPA funds, including $1.5 million for the Johnson County Direct Assistance Program, nearly $1 million to help CommUnity Crisis Services expand mobile crisis coverage, and more than $1 million dollars to help Forest View mobile home tenants move. .

“Dramatic” impact

According to Josh Shamberger, president of Think Iowa City, the effects of the pandemic “have been quite dramatic” across industries, including hospitality and tourism.

“Two and a half years later, we are just starting to see some of the return of some of these tourism sectors, such as conferences, meetings and other events,” he said.

The grants program will provide “a direct return on Iowa City’s tourism, hospitality and community,” Shamberger said.

“This will enhance and spark some of our most iconic festivals and events, but we will also use the program to create and drive additional opportunities,” he added.

Mayor Bruce Teague said it was a “vital opportunity” for the city.

According to Shamberger, it is planned to open the application period for grants in early August.

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