Travel & Tourism
Herbert Hoover NHS News Release: National Historic Site Equals Visitors, Money, and Jobs for the Local Economy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Adam Prato   
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 08:08
WEST BRANCH, IOWA— A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 142,512 visitors in 2010 spent more than $7 million in Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and in communities near the park. That spending supported 119 jobs in the local area. “The people and the business owners in communities near national parks have always known their economic value,” park Superintendent Pete Swisher said. “Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is clean, green fuel for the engine that drives our local economy.”

Most of the spending and jobs are related to lodging, food, and beverage service (52 percent), followed by other retail (29 percent), entertainment and amusements (10 percent), gas and local transportation (7 percent), and groceries (2 percent). The figures are based on $12 billion of direct spending by 281 million visitors in 394 national parks and nearby communities and are included in an annual, peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis conducted by Dr. Daniel Stynes of Michigan State University for the National Park Service. Across the U.S, local visitor spending added a total of $31 billion to the national economy and supported more than 258,000 jobs, an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs over 2009.

To download the report visit: and select Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010. The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. For more information on how the NPS is working in Iowa, go to

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. For more information go online at or call (319) 643-2541.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
110 Parkside Drive
PO Box 607
West Branch, Iowa  52358

319 643-2541 phone
319 643-7864 fax

News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Jessica Wheeler   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:22


Moline, Ill.—Allegiant (NASDAQ: ALGT) today inaugurates low-cost, nonstop flights between Moline, Ill. and Orlando, Fla. via Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB). The company, known for its exceptional travel deals, will offer fares as low as $89.99* one way between the two cities, as well as offer travelers a fourth night free when they book their Orlando stay at Serlago Hotel and Suites or Best Western Orlando Gateway.

“We are pleased to expand the Allegiant brand of low-cost travel services in Moline,” Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant Travel Company President, said. “Our service to Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa and Tampa, Fla. has been very successful, and we are confident that the residents of Moline and the Quad Cities area will appreciate flying nonstop to Orlando, as well as the value of booking hotel rooms and car rentals through us."

“We are excited for today’s inaugural flight to Orlando-Sanford Airport. We know that passengers from this region truly appreciate nonstop access to their vacations,” said Bruce Carter, Director of Aviation. “We started with just two cities offered by Allegiant, and are pleased to have grown to four nonstop destinations. We look forward to having our travelers use this service, and we hope to watch these flights increase in popularity just as they have for the other three cities.”

Allegiant offers the only nonstop service from Quad City International Airport to Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa, Tampa and Orlando, Fla., as well as great deals on hotels, car rental service and attractions.

The new flights will operate twice weekly between Quad City International Airport (MLI) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), carrying as many as 150 passengers on each flight. For flight schedules and reservations please visit

Located in the heart of Central Florida, Orlando is home to the world’s most exciting theme parks and has plenty of shopping, dining, outdoor activities, and entertainment. Allegiant partners with more than 60 of the Orlando area’s most exciting hotel properties, provides low-cost car rental service through its partnership with Alamo Rent a Car, and offers great deals on activities such as theme park tickets, dinner shows, and day tours. Moline and Quad Cities area travelers can book their entire Orlando vacation for less by visiting

Allegiant, travel is our deal.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company (NASDAQ: ALGT) is focused on linking travelers in small cities to world-class leisure destinations. Through its subsidiary, Allegiant Air, the company operates a low-cost, high-efficiency, all-jet passenger airline, and offers other travel-related products such as hotel rooms, rental cars, and attraction tickets through its website, The company was ranked ninth in the 2011 Forbes’ Best Small Companies. Allegiant was also recently named one of FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Fastest-Growing Companies” for the second consecutive year.

About the $89.99* one-way fares:

Seats are limited. Fares are one-way and not available on all flights. Must be purchased by Feb. 26, 2012, for travel by Aug. 14, 2012. Prices include PFC, segment tax and Sept. 11th security fee of up to $10.80 per segment. A segment is one take-off and one landing. A convenience fee of $10.00 per segment, per passenger is included in the introductory one-way fare. A fee of $14.99 per segment, will apply when purchased through Allegiant call centers. Purchases made at any Allegiant Airport Ticket Office will not incur a convenience or call center fee. For ticket counter hours of operation, please visit When purchased at the time of booking, a checked bag fee of up to $19.99 per bag will apply per person, per segment. If purchased at flight check-in, a fee of $35 per checked bag, per person, per segment will apply for the first two bags checked. Additional higher fees will apply for three or more checked bags. Fare rules, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice. Restrictions apply.


Blank Park Zoo releases its spring and summer lineup for 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Richard Martin   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:19

DES MOINES, Iowa (February 16, 2012) - Iowa’s only accredited Zoo announced today its spring and summer lineup that includes an Ice Age Mammals exhibit, the grand opening of  the new seal and sea lion pool, watusi cattle, a new entrance and park plus many new events.


“There will be more going on at the Zoo than ever before,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo. “We are having a ton of events, new exhibits and of course, lots of fun. You’ll want to ‘Do the Zoo’ many times this summer.”


The kick-off of the season will be the grand opening of the seal & sea lion pool, the entrance and new drive and the opening of Ice Age Mammals on March 17, 2012.


Blank Park Zoo will also make field trips extremely affordable this spring by continuing $2 per child admission on K-12 field trips.


“Field trips are usually one of the first things eliminated during education budget cuts,” said Vukovich. “The Zoo wanted to show our commitment to the importance of educating children about animals and conservation.”


Here’s a list of happenings at the Blank Park Zoo this spring/summer:


  • Ice Age Mammals- The unbelievably mild winter will be followed by a spring full of Ice! Well, artificial ice for sure. Blank Park Zoo is bringing in an Ice Age Mammals exhibit. These animatronic wonders will be chillin’ it old school in the ZooPlex this spring. Experience a wooly mammoth, a smilodon family and more amazing creatures from the past. (free with regular Zoo admission, March 17 – June 10, 2012)


  • New Seal & Sea Lion Pool- This new $1.3 million pool is a huge improvement to the Zoo and features underwater viewing, a new observation deck, a bigger island for training demonstrations and two new seal pups. (Grand Opening March 17, 2012)


  • Front Entrance and Park- This new, safer entrance to Blank Park Zoo has a new sign, new pond and waterfall as well as a new shelter house, playground and picnic area for the community to enjoy. (Grand Opening March 17, 2012)


  • Watusi- This African longhorn cattle breed is known as the “cattle of kings” and will be sure to amaze with their impressive horns.


  • Japanese Macaque exhibit- The Japanese macaque exhibit needed an ‘extreme exhibit makeover,’ so this winter the zoo added a new mesh exhibit containment system, and a new interactive tunnel where visitors can now go into the exhibit and see the macaques up close and personal! (expected completion May 2012)


  • Squirrel Monkey- A new animal to Blank Park Zoo will make its home at the former clock tower circle. This South American primate will amaze you with their silly antics.


  • King Vulture- This central and South American bird will take up residence with the squirrel monkeys near the penguins and sea lion pool. “Long live the king vulture.”


  • New Parakeet Feeding Area- Due to popular demand, Blank Park Zoo will be opening a permanent parakeet feeding exhibit in the David Kruidenier Australia Adventure.


  • Pacific Reef- As we bid farewell to the jellyfish, Blank Park Zoo has converted the circular aquarium into a northwest Pacific reef aquarium, featuring Starfish and other colorful cold water fish from the northwest.


  • Miniature Zebu Cattle- Joining the Kids’ Kingdom contact area of the Zoo this spring will be miniature Zebu cattle that the public can feed.


  • Roller Pigeons- Also joining Kids’ Kingdom will be a unique acrobatic pigeon called a roller pigeon.


  • Australia Adventure- This exhibit opened last July to popular reviews. The exhibit tells the story of Australia with an Australian Station, bouncing wallabies, emus, kookaburras, rare cassowary and more. (Now Open)


  • New Interactives- Thanks to John Deere Foundation, the Discovery Center and Kids’ Kingdom exhibits are going to be equipped with all-new interactive displays.


  • Expanded Zoo Hours – Due to popular demand, Blank Park Zoo will be expanding its summer hours and opening an hour earlier every day, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m (May through September).



  • Ice Age Field Trip Pricing- Blank Park Zoo is continuing its reduced price of Kindergarten through grade 12 field trips for only $2. “You’ll have to go back to the Ice Age to find a field trip so affordable,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO. School groups that wish to participate must pre-register at and be from a recognized school.


  • Summer Safari Day Camps, expanded all-day camps will return this summer for children ages 5-13. Half-day camps will also be available for children ages 3-6. Online registration now available at


  • ZooTots- Join some furry, feathery, slimy and fuzzy animal friends in an exciting, hands-on adventure. We will read books, make crafts, and eat some yummy animal snacks.  Classes are held at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Ages 2-4 with an adult (Now through March 10, register at


  • Zoo Tots Cooking- Classes consist of exciting cooking lessons right here at the Zoo. Each week, you and your toddler will cook a treat and participate in fun activities.  These classes will be held on Fridays at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Ages 2-4 with an adult (Now through March 2, register now at


  • ZooTunes- New to Blank Park Zoo’s education lineup is ZooTunes, a music class for ages 6 mo.-2 years with an adult. Participants in this class will sing songs, play instruments, dance, join in hands-on activities, and enjoy animal visitors.  Adults will be actively involved in the class, helping to engage the young children in music.  Classes will be held alternating Wednesdays at 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 6:00 p.m. and are about 30-45 min. in length.  (Now through February 29, register now at


  • Zoodlers! is a drop off class for children 3-5 years of age. Children will attend every Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/ Thursday for 4 weeks. Classes will be held from March 12-April 12 from 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  During Zoodlers!, children will participate in fun games and crafts, explore the Zoo, read a story, have a snack and meet an animal friend!  Zoodlers! is a great way to get ready for pre-school and spend some time at the Blank Park Zoo! Children must be potty trained.



  • Eggstravaganza- Kicking off Blank Park Zoo’s 2012 event season is “Eggstravaganza.” Children of all ages embark on a safari Easter egg hunt. Some of the animals will participate in an egg hunt of their own. Photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny will be available. (April 7, 2012)

  • Adventure Days- This summer families will enjoy added education, activities and different themes during nine Saturdays at Adventure Days at Blank Park Zoo. Themes include Latino culture, gardening and conservation, life in the Ice Age and more.

  • Zoo Brew returns with even more fun evenings every Wednesday this June, July & August. Each 21-and-over event will feature beer or wine sampling, live music and, of course, all of the animals at Blank Park Zoo. The event is FREE with paid Zoo Admission and free to Blank Park Zoo Members. 

  • Jack Hanna Returns – Join Blank Park Zoo for a special evening with America’s favorite zookeeper at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center at Veterans Memorial. Tickets start at $100 with proceeds benefiting the non-profit Blank Park Zoo and can be purchased now at Presented by Nationwide Insurance.

  • Gators on the Green- Help Blank Park Zoo continue its mission of conservation, education and recreation by participating in this new golf tournament. After all, where else in Iowa can you golf while viewing ‘real’ alligators on the green! (Wakonda Country Club, May 21, 2012, $300 single, $1,200 foursome, $2,000 foursome with hole sponsorship).

  • Pit Bulls, Parrots & Primates- Blank Park Zoo is excited to announce three conservation events in 2012 in cooperation with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa! The evening events include the sold out Tia Torres talk (March 2, 2012), Dr. Irene Pepperberg (April 6, 2012) will talk about her work with grey parrots and Dr. Herbert Covert (May 4, 2012) will talk about his work with Asian primates.


  • Facebook Fan Night- This night will allow our loyal Facebook fans to have the Zoo to themselves for a few hours. This exclusive event will feature some fun behind-the-scenes activities and unique opportunities. (June 7, 2012)


  • Run for the Wild: The Tortoise Trot- Lace up your shoes for a one-of-a-kind run through Blank Park Zoo which will include a 5k race and a 1 mile fun fun. This year’s run will honor the Aldabra Tortoises, two of which will be celebrating birthday number 5-0. (June 16, 2012)


  • Say I Do at the Zoo Bridal Show – Blank Park Zoo is inviting soon-to-be brides to meet dozens of vendors in the wedding industry. The ZooPlex will be set up with vendor booths including DJs, local cake shops, dress boutiques, photographers, and more! Blank Park Zoo will be featured as the location venue. Johnny’s Italian Streakhouse will provide food samples. (July 22, 2012)


  • Zoobilation- The gala is making a comeback at Blank Park Zoo in 2012. Whether you enjoy the Zoo for the animals, education or conservation, this event will allow you to support your favorite aspect while enjoying cocktails, food stations and fun entertainment. (Friday, September 21, 2012)


  • Campout at the Zoo- This outdoor overnight adventure will be an unforgettable night with Blank Park Zoo’s animals. Enjoy the Zoo after hours to see animal behaviors you may not have seen before, plus campfire stories, s’mores, interact with the Zoo’s small animal friends and more! (October 5, 2012)


  • Night Eyes- Everyone’s favorite trick-or-treat event returns this October for its 22 straight year of “merry not scary” fun. Over 500,000 treats will be passed out at the number-one family Halloween event.


  • Santa at the Zoo- This international celebrity is rumored to make another appearance at Blank Park Zoo with a couple of his reindeer friends. Plus, watch animals open some of their early presents they have been waiting for all year long! (December 8 & 15, 2012)



  • Blank Park Zoo, Living History Farms & Science Center of Iowa Tri Membership Pass- This is the seventh anniversary of when three great Iowa non-profits combined forces to offer a unique pass for the greatest attractions around. For only $219, you and your family can experience the fun and excitement of all these attractions for a whole year.


  • Blank Park Zoo Membership - The $89 Blank Park Zoo family member pass will be the best value to return for each of the Zoo’s new attractions. In addition to free, year-round admittance to the Blank Park Zoo and free or discounted admission to 160 other Zoos, this year members will receive one free train ride and bring one additional guest for free (one guest per family) on “Member Mondays” and free admission to Zoo Brew and Adventure Days.



  • Group Safari Packages- Blank Park Zoo is perfect for family reunions, company picnics and meetings, group outings and more. Enjoy all the animals and activities the Zoo has to offer at a reduced cost. Ask about our special group tours and meal packages.


  • Birthday Parties- The best place to take the kids is now the wildest place for a birthday party. Check out for details.



  • ‘Wild’ Summer Jobs- Look for our summer job fair announcement during spring break. Positions include cashiers, train driver, retail, camp instructors, exhibit interpreters and seasonal keepers.


  • Volunteers- Volunteers work in many areas of the Zoo including horticulture, exhibit interpretation, Kids’ Kingdom, events and more. Visit for more information.



About Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, will be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. this winter. Winter admission rates are $7 for adults, $3 for children under 12, and $5 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.




Easy Explorations of Madagascar, Guyana & More with IE PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Emily Harley   
Monday, 20 February 2012 14:37

No More Roughing It: International Expeditions Makes Getting Off the Beaten Path Luxuriously Simple

HELENA, Ala., February 15, 2012 – More and more travelers are craving destinations that offer under-the-radar appeal, active excursion options and authentic connections to the local people and environment. In fact, adventure travelers now constitute 26% of the traveling population, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s Adventure Tourism Marketing Report, and are more likely to seek out new destinations before mainstream travelers. Appealing to this increasing demographic of discerning and adventurous explorers, nature travel pioneer International Expeditions is offering travel to remote destinations like Guyana, Madagascar and beyond.

“Many travelers who used to be comfortable with a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to travel planning have discovered the value in allowing a tour operator like IE to handle all of the logistical details involved with exploring remote destinations,” said Bill Robison, IE’s Director of Program Development. “The backpacker generation of the 1970s still want an authentic sense of discovery, but they now have less time and higher standards — no more bunk beds and hostels!”

For 2012, International Expeditions is expanding their line-up and pioneering upscale travel to spot exotic wildlife, hike through pristine trails and sample tantalizing cuisine in destinations where few tour operators go. Plus, IE takes care of details such as airport transfers, most tips and the entire pre-trip planning process to ensure a seamless adventure. IE’s hallmark is its comprehensive itineraries featuring engaging activities, authentic encounters with the local people and passionate world-class naturalist guides who enhance each experience with their knowledge of the destinations visited.

On IE’s Guyana & Trinidad tour, travelers combine Guyana’s pristine nature with three days at Trinidad’s world famous Asa Wright Nature Center. Guests on this rustic adventure journey deep into the heart of one of Earth’s last untouched tropical rainforests and have the chance to spot more than 800 bird species. Chartered flight to and from remote Kaieteur Falls set this itinerary apart from what travelers can arrange with scheduled flights.

“The scheduled flight to Kaieteur is unreliable and is often just cancelled altogether if enough seats aren’t sold,” said Robison. “Traveling with a seasoned tour operator provides a safety net if unexpected changes occur.”

Island life takes on new meaning as travelers set foot on Madagascar, where lemurs cavort in the shade offered by lush forests and charming Malagasy people welcome guests to Earth’s oldest island. On IE’s new Madagascar safari, guests spend 17 days on naturalist-guided hiking and boating excursions looking for unique endemic wildlife. Accompanying IE guests is Cassiano “Zapa” Zaparolli, a seasoned expedition leader who has guided for such groups as National Wildlife Federation and Smithsonian. Joining Zapa will be a Malagasy expedition leader and local naturalists.

“Frankly, travel to Madagascar can be difficult if you aren’t in the hands of an experienced travel provider,” said Robison. “Flight delays and last-minute changes are part of traveling there, but IE guests travel with an expedition leader and guides who look after them every step of the way. “

International Expeditions can also help travelers harness their inner “backpacker” with a fully customized trek on the Salkantay Trail. A less-touristy alternative to the Inca Trail, Salkantay passes through stunning Andean scenery before ending at Machu Picchu. Although the excitement and surroundings are reminiscent of rugged mountain climbs, the accommodations are anything but rustic. After a day of guided hiking along the trail, IE guests spend their evenings at boutique mountain lodges, where warm showers and cold drinks greet them at day’s end.

Celebrating 32 years of nature travel, International Expeditions specializes in small-group journeys to Earth’s most exhilarating destinations. For more information or a brochure, call IE at 1-800-234-9620, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit


Governor Quinn Announces New Section on State’s Tourism Web Site for LGBT Travelers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 13 February 2012 14:33

“Pride Illinois” Offers LGBT Travelers Detailed Information on Navigating Illinois’ Destinations and Attractions

CHICAGO – February 11, 2012. One year after signing historic civil union legislation, Governor Pat Quinn today announced the launch of a new section of the state’s official tourism website tailored toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered (LGBT) travelers. “Pride Illinois” features LGBT-friendly and/or owned travel destinations, attractions, accommodations, events and more throughout Illinois.

“Our tourism website helps visitors map out their visits to Illinois by giving them information about the great places and activities Illinois has to offer,” Governor Quinn said. “Tailoring the site to meet the needs of LGBT travelers will help them make the most of their visit while supporting the growing Illinois tourism industry.”

The new “Pride Illinois” section of the Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT) website – – furthers Governor Quinn’s efforts to boost tourism and foster equality in Illinois by highlighting the variety of sites, entertainment and activities for LGBT travelers visiting Illinois. “Pride Illinois” is organized by each of the state’s four travel regions.

“Pride Illinois” offers yet another resource for people traveling throughout the state,” said Illinois Office of Tourism Deputy Director Jan Kostner. “We are excited to offer more detailed information to assist LGBT travelers as they discover Illinois.”

The “Pride Illinois” section provides a listing of TAG Approved® accommodations throughout Illinois.

A TAG Approved® property enforces non-discriminatory policies, treats heterosexual and domestic partners equally in personnel policies, and provides LGBT diversity and sensitivity training for employees. In addition, the property employs staff reflective of the diversity of their community, gives back to its community, and empowers customers and employees to act as watchdogs of its LGBT business practices.

According to the LGBT 2020 Study conducted by OutNow Global, LGBT travelers spent an average of $1,974 on leisure travel over the past twelve months. The study also showed that 78 percent of LGBT consumers prefer to stay at “gay-welcoming” hotels. OutNow Global is an LGBT marketing agency formed to better understand the lives and concerns of the LGBT community.

Illinois is the sixth state in the nation to allow civil unions. In January 2011, Governor Quinn signed historic legislation providing same-sex couples with the same full state legal rights as married couples.

For additional information on “Pride Illinois” and to find attractions, destinations and events statewide, visit



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