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Dubuque tourism officials, businesses hoping for strong tourism season despite rising gas prices

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – After two rough years for the tourism industry because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local business and tourism leaders are staying positive despite the impact rising gas prices could have on the industry.

Stephen Geisz, the general manager of the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark in the Port of Dubuque, said they are welcoming around 700 people a day at the waterpark. He also mentioned they are close to hitting near record Spring Break numbers.

”I think people were ready to travel,” Geisz mentioned. “We are seeing a lot of travel. Our business for the first quarter has basically almost doubled from last year, of course, and we are hitting all of our numbers.”

Geisz said most of the resort’s guests come from out of town, which he describes as worrisome as gas prices continue to rise across the U.S.

“As they continue to climb, I think, going into the summer, that is going to have an effect on tourism from both a leisure market and probably people traveling on business or groups,” he added.

Keith Rahe, president and CEO of Travel Dubuque, described the city as a driving destination. He said most tourists who come to town are from nearby cities, like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

He said, however, tourism leaders are hopeful high gas prices could actually have a positive impact on Dubuque tourism.

“It is an affordable getaway,” he explained. “Our hotels, our attractions, our restaurants, everything that we have is pretty reasonable. And you combine that with, when I talk about all of those markets, you are looking at anywhere from an hour to three hour drive, that is pretty easy to do on a tank of gas.”

Rahe said he believes, after two years of pandemic, people’s desire to get out and travel will beat the stress of having to pay more at the pump.

”There is a huge demand coming out of COVID and all the restrictions for people to do stuff, to get out, go to restaurants, go to events, just to get out and start to do things again,” he commented.

Dubuque leaders are also hopeful for a strong summer tourism season, particularly thanks to the arrival of the Viking Cruise line and the next Major League Baseball game at the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville.

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