DES MOINES — A photo of a kayaker on the Turkey River snapped by Jessica Rilling of Cedar Rapids will grace the cover of the 2013 Iowa Travel Guide to be distributed this spring.
Rilling’s photo — among more than 600 submissions to the Iowa Tourism Office — was honored as the winning entry in a state contest by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday. More than 3,000 Facebook fans of the Tourism Office’s www.traveliowa.com website voted for their favorite of three cover options during a 10-day period that ended Feb. 1.
Branstad said he visited the Turkey River area near the state’s trout hatchery in Elkader where Rilling took her photo.
In December, Iowa tourism officials asked amateur and professional photographers to submit photos from their Iowa travels for consideration on the new travel guide cover. More than 600 submissions were narrowed down to three cover options: Rilling’s photo; a scene of boaters having fun on an Okoboji lake entered by Brock Bringle of Storm Lake; and a photo of a family hiking at Maquoketa Caves State Park submitted by Kelsey Delperdang of Cedar Rapids.
Branstad noted that tourism is a $7 billion industry in Iowa that generates $328 million in state taxes annually.
State tourism officials issued a report last October indicating that travelers spent $7.2 billion in Iowa in 2011, a 10.3 percent yearly increase for an industry that supports 63,400 jobs statewide. The counties with the highest tourism expenditures were Polk, Linn, Scott, Johnson and Black Hawk, according to the report.
“People value vacations and their time away from the daily grind,” Reynolds said. “The three destinations captured among the finalist cover options are representative of the thousands of great Iowa places you can choose for your next getaway.”
The four-color guide is Iowa’s comprehensive trip-planning publication, with listings from more than 700 attractions, 550 hotels, 160 bed and breakfasts and 400 campgrounds in addition to information on state parks, trails and scenic byways. The Iowa Tourism Office distributes more than 100,000 copies of the Iowa Travel Guide annually to travelers from every state and around the world.
Information on Iowa travel destinations is available via www.traveliowa.com, the Iowa Tourism Office’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/iowatourism), Twitter account (www.twitter.com/Travel_Iowa), blog (www.traveliowa.blogspot.com) or Pinterest account (www.pinterest.com/iowatourism). Travelers can share their Iowa vacation photos in the Travel Iowa Flickr Pool (www.flickr.com/groups/traveliowa).