The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 25, 2013

Area organizations receive state tourism awards

(Continued)

In addition to the social media award, the bureau also received a grant from the Iowa Tourism Office to assist with the redesign and printing of the Fairfield Visitors Guide.

American Gothic House Center

For Holly Berg and the volunteers at the American Gothic House Center, the Outstanding Tourism Experience award isn't something they're actively seeking, it's just the recognition of what they do every day.

"An outstanding tourism experience is all about the things we do for visitors to have the best experience possible," Berg said. "We're happy to stay open late, take pictures in the cold or the rain, always have someone here to greet people. That's how it's always been. We want to be as hospitable as possible."

Being welcoming, being available and being free were just a few of the components Berg says caught the tourism conference's eye.

"For this award, they are talking about how, before the center was here, there was no voice for the American Gothic House," she said. "But now they're talking about how it's driven tourism to the area."

And in the end, it's the pleased visitors, whether they're from right here in the area or the other side of the world, that's the most important part.

"We've had such good feedback. People will send us pictures — we get Christmas cards they've done with their pictures," Berg said. "We're always improving, and that's hard but fun because we serve two different groups — visitors and local and regional residents. We're always looking for new events and activities to keep them coming back."

The American Gothic House Center was also awarded a professional development grant from the Iowa Tourism Office. This grant will provide funding for a social media intern from the social and digital communications department at Indian Hills Community College.

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