Building Idaho’s economy by increasing visitor expenditures throughout the state is the goal of Idaho Department of Commerce's Tourism Development Division. The division's activities are funded by a two percent lodging tax, paid by travelers and collected by the state's hotel, motel and private campground owners. Tax collections have grown to over $7 million annually.
Forty-five percent of the funds are used for statewide programs targeted to international and domestic consumers, tour operators, travel agents, travel journalists, and film industry marketing. Another forty-five percent is distributed to non-profit local and regional tourism development organizations through the Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant Program. The remaining ten percent is used for administration of the division.
Oversight is provided by the Idaho Travel Council, an eight-member, private sector advisory board appointed by the governor. According to the US Travel Association, Idaho's $3.4 billion tourism industry employs over 26,000 Idahoans and generated $499.7 million in local, state, and federal tax revenues.
A research study conducted by Longwoods International found that Idaho had 31.7 million person trips in 2008. As a primarily leisure-travel state, most visitors to Idaho were here to visit friends and family, along with experiencing the outdoors, touring and attending a special event.
Money spent by Idaho overnight visitors totaled over $1.8 billion with items such as lodging ($502 million), food/beverage ($412 million), retail purchases ($333 million), recreation ($218 million) and transportation ($298 million) topping the list of necessities. Day trips to Idaho totaled $0.9 billion with retail ($341 million), recreation ($137 million), transportation ($142 million) and food/beverage ($242 million) again topping the list.