Cathy Greteman was recognized by the Iowa Tourism Industry for her work toward making Iowa an internationally recognized destination.
Cathy Greteman was recognized by the Iowa Tourism Industry for her work toward making Iowa an internationally recognized destination.
November 22, 2013


Carroll's Cathy Greteman of Town & Country Travel, Star Destination and Windstar Lines, was honored recently by the Travel Federation of Iowa and the Iowa Tourism Industry for her work and dedication in making Iowa a nationally recognized destination.

The award was announced at the Iowa Tourism Conference in Waterloo in October.

"They give out a number of awards every year in different categories," explained Sue Schrad, program director for the Carroll Chamber of Commerce. "(Greteman) doesn't fit into any category, but they recognize what she's done for Iowa."

Greteman stepped into the industry in 1982, working as a part-time travel agent at Town & Country Travel. In 1984, she bought and expanded the business, which specialized in individual vacation packages. Today, Star Destinations also operates custom-designed group tours for domestic and international customers alike.

"We handle all the travel arrangements once a group gets in the country," Greteman said.

In 1993, she and her husband, Mike, opened Windstar Lines, which currently operates 60 deluxe motorcoaches from six locations in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois under the leadership of their sons Jeff, Scott and Pat.

In 2002, Greteman served on the leadership team of the National Tour Association, joining the board of directors in 2006 and 2007, as secretary and treasurer in 2008 and vice chairman in 2009. In 2010 and 2011, she became the first person in the organization's 60-year history to serve two consecutive years as chairman, during which she oversaw expansion of the association to include international membership.

Schrad said that the organization's leadership by a woman from Iowa, a smaller state with no really large cities, shows the "integrity and respect" Greteman has helped garner for the state. Greteman is now serving on the board of directors for NTASI, a for-profit company related to the NTA.

Her tour company organizes incentive travel, trips for university and student groups, leisure trips and agricultural tours, the latter of which is rising in the Midwest, Greteman explained.

Iowa in particular is a key area for agritourism. Home to the headquarters of multiple worldwide chemical companies, agricultural manufacturing companies, and food-additive plants, farmers from around the world travel to Iowa to see the test plots, watch their tractors being made, and review firsthand the methods of U.S. agriculture.

The international tourists, from countries ranging from Sweden and Australia to Mexico and Brazil, often arrive in Chicago. The tours can encompass dairy operations in Wisconsin or California and shipping operations in Missouri and Mississippi, but when they want to see rural farming, they come to Iowa, Greteman said.

The agritourism industry has existed for decades, she explained, but incoming visitors had increased steadily over the last decade. She credits part of this increase to the U.S. economy - while the dollar is relatively weak, more international farmers can afford to come here and see how the farming methods differ on a local level.

Though a strong national economy is important, this influx of tourism does have benefits on local economies, Greteman said. The visitors are often interested in farm and home tours. On one particular tour, a bus driver asked the tour guide how much his Brazilian passengers had spent in their four days in Iowa. Of the 30 tourists, the lowest amount spent was $7,000 and the largest amount spent in the state was $52,000.

In addition to her statewide service, Greteman has also been an active local community leader. She served on the Carroll Chamber of Commerce board of directors in the from 1994-1999, acting as president in 1998. From 1999 to 2011 she was on the Carroll County Economic Development board.

She received the Governors Award for the Promotion of Iowa Tourism in 1999, and in 2000, she was named citizen of the year by the Carroll Chamber.

Greteman has served on school boards, in parishes and on arts boards. She and Mike have been married 44 years. In addition to their three sons, they have one daughter, Julie Greteman Mayhall, and 10 grandchildren.