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10/26/17
2017 Nebraska Passport participants shatter records

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Press Contact: Jenn Gjerde at 402-525-4455 or 
jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov
Passport Coordinator: Erin Wirth at 402-471-3789 orerin.wirth@nebraska.gov

2017 Nebraska Passport participants shatter records

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LINCOLN, Neb. (Oct. 26, 2017)— This summer, more people than ever before traveled the scenic roads of Nebraska to get stamps in their
Nebraska Passport booklet. A record-setting 465 participants submitted Passports with all 80 stops stamped, compared to 168 in 2016 and 81 in 2015.

“I thoroughly enjoyed each and every stop that I made in the process of getting all 80 stamps,” said Kristen Andersen of Lincoln. “Once again the Nebraska Passport has proven how unique Nebraska is and how stopping in a small town and opening a door can open a whole new world. I encourage anyone and everyone to get off the beaten path and explore Nebraska, there’s so much to see and do. Looking forward to next year’s adventure!”

2017 Nebraska Passport Statistics:
• There were 275% more prize entry sheets submitted in 2017 than in 2016
• 167,153 total stamps were collected (up 190% from 2016)
• The average number of stamps on submitted Passports was 32
• Participants included residents from over 376 Nebraska communities and 43 states
• The top 10 most visited stops were:

  1. UNL Dairy Store, Lincoln
  2. Runza Restaurant, Lincoln
  3. Bakers Candies Inc, Greenwood
  4. eCreamery Ice Cream & Gelato, Omaha
  5. Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln
  6. University of Nebraska State Museum – Morril Hall, Lincoln
  7. Nebraska History Museum, Lincoln
  8. Glacial Till Tasting Room, Ashland
  9. Fort Cody Trading Post, North Platte
  10. The Chocolate Bar, Grand Island

 
“The number of people participating in this program is remarkable. We set some fairly hefty goals for this year and all of those were exceeded by a long shot,” said Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director, John Ricks. “Every year more and more people discover Nebraska’s hidden gems through the Passport.”

The winner of this year’s grand prize drawing is Richard Cecava of Omaha. He will receive an Omaha Steaks Butcher’s Share Quarter of Beef with a free chest freezer, in addition to other program prizes.

The 300 Nebraska Lottery scratch coupons prize will go to Ellen Mohling of Beatrice.

A new giveaway this year was four Nebraska Getaways. Those winners are Austin Pelc of Wayne, Liza Miller of Riverdale, Starlight Fonseca of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Shea Holland of Marietta, Georgia.

Travelers who visited participating locations and collected stamps could also earn prize t-shirts, wall calendars, Bakers Chocolates, Nebraska 150 Ceramic Mugs and a Passport Gift Box that includes a jacket, car deal and a sampling of products from 2017 Passport stops.
 
Be a 2018 Nebraska Passport Stop
Applications are now being accepted for the Nebraska Tourism’s 2018 Passport program. To be considered as a featured destination in the 2018 Nebraska Passport program, go to 
http://nebraskapassport.com/program/forpassportstops/ and fill out an online application before December 31, 2017 at 5 p.m. (CST). Questions about participating in the program can be directed to Erin Wirth at erin.wirth@nebraska.gov or 402-471-3789.

Before applying, please consider that, if selected, your destination must:

•Offer an exceptional, unique visitor experience
•Be open regular, reasonable, consistent hours and keep the same hours of operation throughout the Passport season
•Display excellent customer service
•Abide by Nebraska state law that prohibits charging participants for admission in order to receive a stamp

More information on the Passport program and stories from Passport travelers can be found at
NebraskaPassport.com.

     

For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and on YouTube.
 
The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to 
VisitNebraska.com.

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10/20/17
Nebraska Tourism opens grant cycle and promotes marketing opportunities

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Press: Jenn Gjerde at 402-471-3768, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov
Grant Coordinator: Heather Hogue at 402-471-3774, or heather.hogue@nebraska.gov

Nebraska Tourism opens grant cycle and promotes marketing opportunities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lincoln, Neb. (Oct. 20, 2017)— The Nebraska Tourism Commission’s application cycle is now open for both the Tourism Marketing Grant Program and Community Impact Grant Program. The programs offer funding opportunities to organizations to promote their events, destinations, community or region to travelers.

Through the Community Impact Grant program, large-scale events can apply for assistance to attract out-of-state visitors and generate favorable national or international press coverage for their event.

The Tourism Marketing Grant Program encourages applicants to get involved in the group tour marketplace, attend travel shows in target areas, advertise in the Nebraska Travel Guide and on VisitNebraska.com, as well as take part in marketing efforts through the Commission's social media programs.
 
"Our goal is to direct efforts to markets currently demonstrating the highest propensity to generate visitation to the state while making participation as affordable as we can," said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism Commission, executive director. "The recommended promotions are eligible for grant funding, which makes it inexpensive for applicants to tie into the Commission's major campaign efforts."
 
The grant cycle is open until December 15, 2017. Grant recipients will be announced January 31, 2018. Click here to view grant guidelines. ( https://visitnebraska.com/media/industry/category/grants )
 

       

For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and on YouTube.
 
The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to VisitNebraska.com.

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10/18/17
2017 Nebraska Tourism Industry Award winners announced

PRESS RELEASE

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Jenn Gjerde at 402-471-3768, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov
Angela Sears at 402-471-7755, or angela.sears@nebraska.gov

2017 Nebraska Tourism Industry Award winners announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

La Vista, Neb. (Oct. 18, 2017)— It was a celebration of Nebraska and the growing tourism industry. Wednesday night, Nebraska’s tourism industry professionals honored their peers at the Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet at the La Vista Conference Center in La Vista, Nebraska. The event capped off the annual Nebraska Tourism Conference organized by the Nebraska Tourism Commission and hosted by Visit Sarpy County. Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks and Commission Chair, Deb Loseke, announced the following 2017 Nebraska Travel Industry Award winners.

The 2017 Henry Fonda Award, the state’s highest tourism award representing leadership, vision and dedication to the tourism industry, went to Mitch and Patty Glidden of Mullen (pictured above). The Gliddens are the owners and operators of The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental and have been for a number of years. Their business not only offers lodging but also bird watching opportunities and summer and winter river adventures. The Gliddens serve on numerous boards and volunteer with many organizations including Hooker County Visitors Committee, Sandhills RC & D, Mullen Commercial Club, Western Nebraska Tourism Coalition, Nebraska Travel Association, Hooker County Fair Board and the Sandhills Sharptail Shootout. In addition, every year they host the Polar Bear Tank Races, which is a large (and sometimes cold) fundraiser for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. They also worked hard to get lodging tax implemented in Hooker County.

“Mitch and Patty’s contribution to the state and the Sandhill’s as a destination is invaluable. They no doubt have a knack for drawing in tourists looking to experience the great outdoors,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director. “Their love for Nebraska and meeting everyday travelers is apparent in everything they do. This award is a tribute to an ambitious couple who’ve made a lasting impact in this industry.”

The Friend of Tourism Award went to Derryl Barr. Barr is a retired school teacher, business owner and eclipse enthusiast. He began planning for the Great American Eclipse in 1995, collecting climate data in our state. Fast forward to 2014 and Barr kicked his eclipse promotion into high gear. He began visiting Nebraska communities along the path of totality, creating excitement and preparing the areas for what was to come. He aided Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, libraries and schools in understanding what eclipse travelers would be seeking and which types of events would be the most likely to resonate with them.

The Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations up to 9,999 went to the Broken Bow- NE150 DRIVE. The Broken Bow NE150 DRIVE was a new event put on this year by the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the state’s sesquicentennial. The DRIVE took participants on a 150-mile road trip through Custer County with eight unique stops along the way. To participate, individuals had to purchase a raffle ticket and then were given turn-by-turn instructions to the eight stops, which totaled roughly 150 miles. Purchasing a raffle ticket got the participant’s name entered in to win $500 dollars. To prove they visited the destinations, contestants had to take a selfie at each stop and upload the picture to the official Broken Bow NE150 DRIVE Facebook page. In the six weeks the event took place, nearly 24 groups completed the drive with nearly 200 photos uploaded to the event page. The event culminated on the day of the Great American Eclipse and a winner was drawn at the Broken Bow watch party.

The Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations 10,000 or greater was awarded to the Crane River Theater Company, for their annual outdoor production in Kearney. Over the past eight years, these summer productions have drawn in over 105,000 audience members. 15,000+ of those came for this year’s performances of The Little Mermaid- an elaborate show full of colorful costumes and quirky characters. Half of the patrons seeing this production at the Cope Amphitheater in Yanney Heritage Park, visit from outside of Kearney, so they take the time to spend the night at a local hotel, eat at local restaurants and visit other local attractions. To pull off this affordable event, Crane River Theater recruits talent on the local and national level. Helping to grow Nebraska’s reputation as a state committed to the arts.

The Outstanding Marketing Campaign Award went to the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau for the New Adventures of Buffalo Bill campaign. Taking inspiration from the success of the new Kentucky Fried Chicken marketing campaign reviving Col. Sanders, the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau decided to re-introduce to the world to Buffalo Bill Cody- a bit of a slap-stick “legend-in-his-own-mind” character proud of the place where he lived for nearly 40 years. Through video, memes and still photography, Buffalo Bill introduces the world to North Platte and gives his “Stamp of Approval.” In the first six months, the Buffalo Bill campaign generated over 655,000 impressions on Facebook and Instagram and they saw an increase of 50% activity on VisitNorthPlatte.com from some of their target markets. The campaign provided a consistent message, the home of the historical home of Buffalo Bill offers a lot, and created abundant awareness across multiple platforms. Another phase of the Buffalo Bill campaign is currently in the works.

The Outstanding Tourism Attraction Award was given to The National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud. Over the last five years, the Willa Cather Foundation embarked on a significant undertaking to create a new archive and museum. The Center is a state-of-the-art archive, museum and arts center that promotes the legacy of renowned writer, Willa Cather. In June, a dedication for the Center was held where first lady Laura Bush was the keynote speaker. Since the dedication and opening, the Foundation has seen an increase of over 40% in visitors and 20% of visitors taking guided tours. Visitors hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and up to seven foreign countries. Remarkably, approximately 80% of visitors come from outside of Nebraska, requiring overnight lodging and garnering average spending of $211 per day. The Center has also had a transformative effect on downtown Red Cloud, recently a coffee house and a wine and craft beer tasting room have opened in nearby buildings.

The winner of the Outstanding Agritourism & Ecotourism Entity Award was given to Crane Trust Nature and Visitors Center of Wood River. Open and free to the public, the Crane Trust’s Nature and Visitor Center is a great location for anyone to experience nature and the awe-inspiring sandhill crane migration. Just a short walk from the Visitor Center is the Trust’s genetically pure bison herd, a 35-foot viewing tower and two footbridges that allow guests to cross the Platte River. The Trust has also spent the last five years expanding a variety of VIP experiences. These experiences are an opportunity for guests to have a more immersive experience on the prairie with migration viewing, comfortable lodging, fat bike tours, kayaking the Platte and much more.

 

Friend of Tourism
Derryl Barr

 

Outstanding Marketing Campaign
North Platte/ Lincoln County Visitors Bureau
The New Adventures of Buffalo Bill

 

Outstanding Event for towns with populations up to 9,999
Broken Bow NE150 Drive

 

Outstanding Event For Towns With Populations Over 10,000
Crane River Theater- Annual Summer Production

 

Outstanding Tourism Attraction
The National Willa Cather Center

 

Outstanding Agritourism Or Ecotourism Entity
Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center
 

       

For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and on YouTube.
 
The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to VisitNebraska.com.

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10/17/17
The Great American Eclipse was big business for Nebraska

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Jenn Gjerde at 402-471-3768, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov
Angela Sears at 402-471-7755, or angela.sears@nebraska.gov

The Great American Eclipse was big business for Nebraska
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

La Vista, Neb. (Oct. 17, 2017)— When the moon brought the state into darkness, Nebraska’s tourism industry was in the spotlight. Tuesday, the Nebraska Tourism Commission along with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced the remarkable results of an economic impact study done by Dean Runyan Associates and Destination Analysts, Inc. regarding the Great American Eclipse.

It is estimated that over 708,000 people traveled to watch the 2017 Solar Eclipse in Nebraska. Approximately 87 percent of those from out-of-state. Making the eclipse, Nebraska’s greatest single tourist event on record.

“This data confirms the magnitude of the solar eclipse’s impact and we couldn’t be more pleased,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism executive director. “The amazing one-time event was big business for our industry and beyond. We hope travelers were inspired to share stories about their Nebraska experience and to visit again.”

Quick Facts:
● The economic impact across the state totaled an estimated $127 million, from lodging and travel expenditures

● On average, visitors spent three days in the state

● A total of 92.7 percent of out-of-state visitors said the eclipse was the reason for their visit to Nebraska. 60.6 percent of out-of-state visitors said they would not have made this trip to Nebraska has it not been for the Solar Eclipse
 
●Prior to this trip, 70.9 percent of out-of-state visitors had not visited Nebraska in the past three years on a purely leisure trip (not to visit friends or relatives). However, when asked, nearly 40 percent said they are likely to visit Nebraska in the next 2 years; 45 percent said they are likely to return in the next 2-5 years

● Media coverage of the event also provided free publicity with an estimated value over $133 million
 
During the opening lunch of the 2017 Nebraska Tourism Conference, where these numbers were announced, Governor Ricketts said, "The eclipse was the perfect opportunity to show off our great state to hundreds of thousands of people. I want to praise the efforts of the Nebraska Tourism Commission and the Nebraska Eclipse Coalition in making August 21, 2017, a safe and pleasurable experience for so many people.”
 
Governor Ricketts recognized the ten cities involved in the coalition with a certificate of excellence. Those cities are Alliance, Beatrice, Gering, Hastings, Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln, North Platte, Omaha and Scottsbluff.
For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and on YouTube.
 
The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to VisitNebraska.com.

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10/16/17
Hundreds of Nebraska tourism professionals to assemble in La Vista this week

For more information or to request a press pass, contact:
Jenn Gjerde at 402-471-3768, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov
Angela Sears at 402-471-7755, or angela.sears@nebraska.gov

Hundreds of Nebraska tourism professionals to assemble in La Vista this week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LINCOLN, Neb. (October 16, 2017)— Nationally renowned speakers, a trip to the pumpkin patch and so much more! The annual Nebraska Tourism Conference is set for this week, October 17-19, in La Vista at the La Vista Conference Center. This annual event brings together tourism industry members from all over Nebraska and allows them to network, learn about the latest research and marketing ideas, and honor their colleague’s achievements.      

“The annual tourism conference is a great place for tourism professionals to learn and expand their thinking and find out what else is happening in the state,” said Nebraska Tourism executive director, John Ricks. “The networking opportunities at the conference are invaluable. We can’t wait to be in the company of annual attendees and first-timers. This is a three-day experience that have many going home with all kinds of new ideas to grow your local tourism efforts.”

Conference highlights on Tuesday, October 17, 2017:
 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.       Conference Welcome & Lunch, La Vista Conference Center
Lt. Governor Mike Foley will welcome conference guests and share some exciting economic impact data related to the Great American Eclipse, keynote speaker, Nan Marchand Beauvois, U.S. Travel Association, will follow.

6:00 – 9:00 p.m.       Sarpy County Showcase Event, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch
Conference attendees are invited to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch for a networking event that will include a catered meal, bonfire and train ride through the property.


Conference highlights on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:
8:30 – 9:45 a.m.       Tourism Powers Economic Development
In a keynote address, George Zimmerman, chairman of Longwoods International, will introduce the HALO effect and discuss the big impact tourism can have on your whole community.

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.       Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet, La Vista Conference Center
The awards banquet honors the many great achievements made by individuals, businesses and associations across Nebraska to develop and support the state’s expanding tourism industry.


Conference highlights on Thursday, October 19, 2017:
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.       Nebraska Tourism Commission Meeting, La Vista Conference Center
The new 11 member Tourism Commission will meet for the first time.

More information on the Nebraska Tourism Conference can be found at https://visitnebraska.com/media/industry/2017-nebraska-tourism-conference.
 
To request a press pass contact Jenn Gjerde at jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov.

     

For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and on YouTube.
 
The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to VisitNebraska.com.

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