Tourism is a huge contributor to Idaho's economy. According to statistics by "Travel Effect" in 2012 it brought in over $4 billion dollars. This week Shilo Inn and Suites in Idaho Falls is hosting the Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism. Summer Joy has the details into this event and industry.
The falls at the green belt, great food at local restaurants, museums, white water rafting, or fishing, and hotels are all a part of the tourism family that helps stimulate Idaho's economy.
"This is a major tourism gateway into Yellowstone and there is a lot of really wonderful activities, events, and even things we are going to be able to show our people who are traveling here to see in this place, so we are really excited to be back in Idaho Falls. Know that we have sunshine, beautiful mountains, and clean air and all those things that make for great potatoes, make for a great vacation," said Karen Ballard, the Administrator and Chief Tourism Officer for the Department of Commerce.
The conference, sponsored by Sysco and Trip Advisor, has a goal to help promote tourism in Idaho through speakers on hospitality, brainstorming for the latest ideas, networking, and promoting local businesses and restaurants.
"We just want people to come and check us out, take a look at what we got, and taste our food. It's a very unique environment because it's right on the water falls," said Jerry Mitchell, the Owner of Whitewater Grill and Snow Eagle Brewing & Grill.
"Tourism is one of those bedrock economic foundation pieces of our economy. We have tourism everywhere in the state and we have a great state that we love to put on display and people need to remember that tourism really permeates a lot of what we do. Tourism is one of the most important industries in the state," said Jeff Sayer, the Director for the Department of Commerce.
One in eight people are in the hospitality industry. Ballard says it's a great career path because most people working in tourism have goals to grow and develop their careers.
"If you start in the tourism industry and twelve years later regardless if you are in it or out of it you will be earning more than any other industry except for the banking industry. We really grow careers and part of that is because it is a very good industry that supports continuing education," added Ballard.
Tonight the event featured Idaho Small Bites which included five of Idaho's top chefs. The event will continue through May 9th with multiple events.
"Idaho has some real national treasures to put on display and this industry is about putting them on display and getting it in front of people so that Idahoans can benefit," added Sayer.
The U.S. Travel association says that tourism generates millions for federal, state, and local governments. Tourism also creates jobs and funds public programs in communities throughout the state.