Idaho Travel, Tourism Officials Compare Notes at Panhandle Confab

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The Gem State's tourism gurus are huddling in Idaho's Panhandle today for the annual spring meeting of the Idaho Travel Council. The two-day confab, at Sandpoint's Schweitzer Mountain, includes a review of the council's budget for Fiscal Year 2014 and analysis of the council's grant process.

Attendees include public and private tourism and travel business owners, and representation from Idaho's many Chambers of Commerce.

“[Tourism] seems to be a leader industry coming out of the recession,” Karen Ballard, administrator and interagency liaison for the Idaho Division of Tourism Development, told Boise Weekly. "It is, in fact, one of the strongest sectors of growth during the economic upturn."

While Ballard said the exact number of how many individual people have visited Idaho of late is nearly impossible to determine, some information comes from room-tax collections. For example, February saw a 13 percent increase in room-tax collections from 2012, according to numbers from the Idaho Department of Commerce, and overall revenue from room-tax collection is up by 1.05 percent to $5.42 million.

“We are seeing an uptick in our 2 percent [room] tax collections, which is how we’re funded, indicative that the market is improving,” said Ballard.

The tourism industry generates 6 percent of Idaho's GDP, as well as employs around 5 percent of the workforce, according to Ballard.