COEUR d'ALENE - Tourism is on the upswing in North Idaho and throughout the Gem State. Idaho's travel industry experienced its best year in 30 years for the 2012 fiscal year, said Karen Ballard, chief tourism officer of Idaho Commerce in Boise. "We are on a healthy rebound," Ballard said. She said that 2008 was "our very best year," but now Idaho has returned to a productive pace of tourism growth, even better than 2008. That rebound is reflected in the $3.4 million in grant money the Idaho Travel Council recently awarded various nonprofit, promotional tourism entities across the state. The council made the announcement Aug. 6 at a meeting in Sun Valley, and $704,575 will flow into North Idaho. This brings the amount of grants dispersed up 6 percent from the previous fiscal year. "It seems by the traffic in our tourist center that we have increased from last year," said Deb Wheeler, operations manager of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce. "I think we're having a good year."

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