The number of visitors and travel expenditures in Greater Des Moines continues a steady climb.

In 2008, Greater Des Moines hosted more than 2.9 million visitors who spent over $1.6 billion between Polk and Dallas counties, according to the Economic Impact of Travel Study released by the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s Iowa Tourism Office. This makes up one quarter of Iowa’s $6.4 billion in travel expenditures.

“This is great news for our state and for Greater Des Moines,” said Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau (GDMCVB) President/CEO Greg Edwards. “Our team has remained committed to moving forward and booking more business in Greater Des Moines, despite the economy. We’re pleased that over the last six years our efforts have helped secure more visitor dollars flowing into our community than each prior year.”

Polk and Dallas counties have a combined growth rate of two percent in travel expenditures from 2007. Polk County travel expenditures were at nearly $1.5 billion in 2008, while Dallas County brought in $130 million.

Over the last six years, Greater Des Moines has seen travel expenditures grow by 45.5 percent.

Greater Des Moines travel expenditures were driven, in part, by conventions and sports events secured by the GDMCVB and the Des Moines Area Sports Commission (DMASC), including the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show and Contest, World Pork Expo, American Society of Animal Science, NCCA Division I Women’s Basketball 1st and 2nd Rounds, NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships and US Taekwondo National/Olympic Qualifier.