The Cedar Valley trails won the outstanding tourism attraction award at the 2012 Iowa Tourism Conference in Altoona Oct. 18.
Also, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Visitors Guide, a collaborative effort between the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau, claimed first place for outstanding tourism publication. Courier Communication was recognized for ad sales, design and layout of the piece.
Cedar Falls Community Main Street and the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo also were in the running for top attraction.
The awards were two of 12 presented by the Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa. Twenty nominees made up the attractions category, while publications had 11.
The attraction nomination called out the multijurisdictional nature of the trails, Prairie Pathways signage, activities of the Cedar Trails Patrol and promotional efforts. Notable elements of this year's visitors guide included the quality and extensive distribution, as well as the unique partnership of the two visitors bureaus, which have worked together on it for more than 10 years; Courier Communications' ad sales, design and layout; and artists Gary Kelley of Cedar Falls and Paco Rosic of Waterloo collaboration to create the cover.
About 70,000 copies of the guide were printed and shipped to visitors centers throughout the state and region, according to Kim (Burger) Manning, with the Cedar Falls bureau. The primary promotional piece is mailed out in response to inquiries about the area, distributed at trade shows and available online.
"I think the tourism industry is beginning to recognize cycling and trails as an important segment of our attractions in the state," she said.
Aaron Buzza, executive director of the Waterloo bureau, pointed to the continued extension of the trails, especially the portion along the Cedar River through downtown Waterloo. A unique network of loops means someone can park and ride several miles, returning to the car without ever seeing the same section of trail.
"It's not just straight out (and back)," he said.
The trails also tie in nicely with the Blue Zones Project movement catching on in both communities, as well as Gov. Terry Branstad's goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016, Buzza said.
In Black Hawk County alone, visitors spent $311.31 million. That's the fifth most among the state's 99 counties, Buzza said.
Waterloo will host next year's conference at The Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.