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Epic Iowa Road Trip

A tour bus is traveling Iowa to promote one of the state's growing industries.

The Epic Iowa Road Trip will visit more than 60 attractions over nine days during a roughly 2,100 mile trip.

The Iowa Tourism Office says some of thehighlights of the Epic Iowa Road Trip include the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Arnold's Park in Okoboji, the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum in Walcott, and Snake Alley in Burlington.

Shawna Lode, Iowa Tourism Office Manager, says travel is big business in Iowa.

"This trip will highlight Iowa's thousands of tourism destinations and the people who manage them. Along the way, we want to inspire people to choose Iowa as a vacation destination."

Tourism spending topped $7.5-billion in 2012, which is an increase of about $400,000 compared to 2011.

Burlington Tourism Director Beth Nickel  says closer to home, spending in Des Moines County increased 3% to more than $120-million in 2012.

She says that is due in part to the rise of traveling sports teams and people choosing to vacation closer to home.

"They are not packing up the car and heading six states over to vacation. They are looking for closer-to-home vacations and that has really helped put our community on the map as a great destination."

Nickel says if local and state leaders want tourism to continue growing, they should put more money into creating attractions and marketing what’s offered.

The Epic Iowa Road Trip is scheduled to wrap up on Saturday, May 9.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.