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Tourism spending increases in eastern Idaho

Tourism spending up in eastern Idaho

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Eastern Idaho is seeing an increase in tourism dollars. One local organization said this will bring more businesses to the region.

The organization called Grow Idaho Falls said the increase in tourism spending has already attracted new restaurants to Idaho Falls. The organization said in the last six months five restaurants have opened. As for businesses already in the area, Grow Idaho Falls said thriving tourism, disposable income and location will help them. Linda Martin is the CEO of the organization and has been tracking tourism spending since 2010.

"We don't have to close any restaurants, we don't have to shut down any hotels because we do have the disposable income to sustain that tourism sector," Martin said.

She also said Bonneville County ranks second in the state for job compensation, which means people here have more money to spend.

In 2012 people spent a total of $153 million at restaurants, bars, RV parks and hotels.
In just one year that number jumped to $162 million. Jascen Carlson is in charge of the revenue for three hotels in Idaho Falls. He said all that money is creating more competition.

"For those hotels that were open between the 2007-2008 season that was the peak time for business in Idaho Falls. Since the recession it has slowed, but we are optimistic with how the summer is going to be," he said.   

Carlson said the Idaho Falls location is helping them rebound, something Martin said is good for everyone.

"I also think that it helps that we're on an interstate, and we are close to national parks and national forests," Martin said.

Grow Idaho Falls also said Bonneville County is $2 billion ahead of other counties in eastern Idaho when it comes to retail sales.

The organization's research shows Bannock County saw an increase of $2 million in tourism spending from 2012 to 2013. Blaine County saw a $2 million decrease.

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