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10/30/18
749 Nebraska Passport participants travel to every stop

PRESS RELEASE

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Press Contact: Erin Lenz at 402-471-3797, or erin.lenz@nebraska.gov
Passport Coordinator: Erin Wirth at 402-471-3789, or erin.wirth@nebraska.gov

749 Nebraska Passport participants travel to every stop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LINCOLN, Neb. (October 30, 2018) – This summer, a record breaking amount of people traveled around Nebraska to get stamps for the Nebraska Passport program. This year, 749 participants submitted Passports with all 70 stops stamped, versus 469 in 2017 and 168 in 2016 when the program hosted 80 stops. These “Passport Champions” hail from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Oregon.

“The Nebraska Passport gave me a renewed sense of state pride,” said Melanie Wortsell of Norfolk. “The people we met along the way were so friendly and genuine. We saw places that we'd never heard of before. The scenery in western Nebraska was incredible. It was an awesome adventure!”

2018 Nebraska Passport Statistics:

  • There were 95% more prize entry sheets submitted and 50% more Passports requested in 2018 than 2017.
  • From submitted Passports, 144,903 total stamps were collected.
  • The average number of stamps submitted per participant was 31.
  • Participants included residents from 418 Nebraska communities and 46 states.
  • Passport participants ranged in age from 1-year-old to 98-years-old.
  • Top 15 Most Visited Stops
    1. UNL Dairy Store, Lincoln
    2. Rabbit Hole Bakery, Lincoln
    3. Piezano’s, Lincoln
    4. The Archway, Kearney
    5. Zio’s Pizza, Omaha
    6. Wave Pizza Co., Grand Island
    7. Platte Valley Antique Mall, Greenwood
    8. Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln
    9. Mahoney State Park, Ashland
    10. Passageway Gallery, Omaha
    11. The Durham Museum, Omaha
    12. Gene Roncka Willow Point Gallery, Ashland
    13. Milady Coffeehouse, Fremont
    14. Bottle Rocket Brewing Co., Seward
    15. Shopping Tripps, Kearney

“This program has grown year after year, achieving the goal of getting Nebraskans to explore the state they call home,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director. “To have 749 people make it to every corner of Nebraska and to see participants from 46 states is absolutely remarkable.”

In 2017, the Nebraska Passport program generated nearly $6 million in travel spending throughout the state and $469,500 in state and local tax revenue, according to a study done by Dean Runyan & Associates.

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

Additional drawings were done for 300 Nebraska Lottery scratch coupons, a year’s worth of Bakers Candies Chocolates, a year’s worth of Runza and a variety of other items from the 2018 passport stops.

Travelers who visited participating locations and collected stamps could also earn a passport decal, $15 in Nebraska lottery coupons, a Nebraska tourism calendar, Nebraska poster booklet and Passport Champion apparel.
 
Be a 2019 Nebraska Passport Stop
Not only does the Nebraska Passport program benefit travelers through helping them create life-long memories, the program greatly benefits the 70 chosen Passport stops through increased traffic, sales and awareness.

“The Passport program was a wonderful experience and brought so much awareness to our small business,” said Cyndie Schoof, owner of Sugar Shack Country Candles in Edgar. “We had hundreds of Passport visitors each month. We had such a great time visiting with them and hearing stories about their Passport travels. We have gained customers for life from this program.”

Applications are now being accepted for Nebraska Tourism’s 2019 Passport program. Any Nebraska destination is welcome to apply to become a Passport “stop.” Past stops have included museums, restaurants, outdoor adventures, retail stores, etc.

To complete the 2019 Passport online application, as well as to view information about Passport stop requirements, how the program benefits Passport stops, and details about the application process, go to: http://nebraskapassport.com/program/application/. The application deadline is December 31, 2018. Questions about participating in the program can be directed to info@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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10/25/18
Nebraska Tourism Commission sends pumpkin to White House

PRESS RELEASE

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Erin Lenz at 402-326-9941, or erin.lenz@nebraska.gov
Jenn Gjerde at 402-525-4455, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov

Nebraska Tourism Commission sends pumpkin to White House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LINCOLN, Neb. (October 25, 2018) – October 26 is National Pumpkin Day and the Nebraska Tourism Commission is celebrating by sending a pumpkin to the White House.

The National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) was tasked with putting a display together for the October 28, 2018 White House Halloween Party for children of military men and women stationed in the DC-Metro area. NTTO asked state tourism offices to send a painted pumpkin that creatively reflects their state.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with state travel industry colleagues on this project and give a Nebraska artist the honor of having her work on display at the house that symbolizes the American people. Nebraska Tourism is appreciative of this opportunity,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism executive director.

This week, the Nebraska Tourism Commission sent in a Nebraska themed pumpkin, created by Tara Lienemann from North Platte. The pumpkin is decorated with a large Husker N surrounded by small images of corn, Chimney Rock, the Oregon Trail, State Capitol and a railroad. Tara is a local born and raised North Platte artist who often showcases her pieces in the Prairie Arts Center gallery. She recently painted a dog statue named “Nebraska” that raised a lot of money for a local charity.

“I knew Tara would be the perfect artist for this project. Her art and her heart are the epitome of a true Nebraskan. It’s vivid, refined and fun!” said Holly Carlini, executive director of the Prairie Arts Center.

The week of October 29, after the event, all of the state pumpkins will be on display at the Old Executive Office Building, just west of the White House, for people to enjoy.

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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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10/18/18
Nebraska Tourism Industry applauds new marketing initiatives

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Erin Lenz at 402-326-9941, or erin.lenz@nebraska.gov
Jenn Gjerde at 402-525-4455, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov

Nebraska Tourism Industry applauds new marketing initiatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LINCOLN, Neb. (October 18, 2018) – The Nebraska Tourism Commission unveiled their new marketing campaign to the tourism industry on Wednesday, October 18 at the 2018 Nebraska Tourism Conference. The new campaign addresses people’s preconceived notions about the state as a travel destination using self-deprecating humor.

“We are pleased with the reaction to yesterday’s announcement on our upcoming marketing campaign. The emails of praise and requests for t-shirts have been overwhelming,” said Jenn Gjerde, Nebraska Tourism Commission marketing manager.  Hopefully, Nebraska Tourism can build on this momentum, letting more and more people know about the odd charm that comes with visiting our state.”

As of 4 p.m. on October 18, media coverage surrounding the new campaign has reached a potential of 384 million people, an advertising value worth over $3.5 million. Many tourism industry professionals had positive things to say about the commission's efforts.

“I want to figure out how we can best tag along, how Omaha fits in this brand positioning. I’m excited, especially about the voice, because we’ve sort of tested it out on some social media and we know we love it when we talk in this quirky, honest kind of voice and so this has sort of inspired me to go back to our ad agency and see how we can tag along.”

  • Deborah Ward, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Visit Omaha

“I loved it. I absolutely loved it.  It’s perfect, it’s exactly what Nebraska people are and it’s exactly what we feel and it is our core value to the T.”

  • Kirsten Parker, Executive Director, Golden Spike Tower & Visitor Center

“I just thought the campaign was absolutely brilliant. This is what Nebraska needs and I can’t wait to see more.”

  • Dipra Jha, Associate Professor of Practice and the Director of Global Engagement for the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management Program at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln

“I think the work that the commission has done is outstanding. I know it’s a work in progress and I’m really kind of excited to see it work out for itself.”

  • John Stinner, Nebraska State Senator

“I think it’s a new way to think outside the box. I think it really plays into what people think of Nebraska but also using that self-deprecating humor to have fun with it and bring people into the state.”

  • Abby Schademann, Marketing and Events Director, Wayne Area Chamber and Economic Development

“I think it’s hilarious. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t laugh.”

  • Tracie Simpson, Convention Services Coordinator, Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau

“I thought it was edgier than what I expected. A little bit more innovative and I’m excited to see how it’s going to work. I think every campaign has great potential and I think this one really listened to the audience and that’s great.”

  • Lori Paulson, Executive Director of the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association

“I think it’s well thought out. It’s based in truth. I think it will capture the attention of target market people that want to travel here. I’m excited to see where it goes and I think the idea has depth.”

  • Brad Mellema, Executive Director, Visit Grand Island

“As an industry professional I really appreciate the new campaign and I think it’s going to hit home for a lot of visitors. I think that they are going to be receptive to the boldness of the campaign and the humor that it brings. It’s just a really refreshing campaign and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the results look like.”

  •  Kristina Reeves, Tourism Director, Discover Northwest Nebraska

“Honestly, it’s perfect. I think it’s great, it’s not as edgy as what everybody was talking about, I think it fits us just perfect.”

  • Dan Watermeier, Nebraska State Senator

“The campaign reflects who we are. We are honest. We are not for everyone. But those who take the time to find out who we are, are going to be very pleasantly surprised.”

  • Carol Schlegel, Tourism Director, Red Willow County Tourism

“I’m very excited for this campaign. I love how eye-catching the advertisements are and the out of the box thinking that went into creating them. Traveling in Nebraska is truly appreciating the experience, being with your friends and family, creating those memories.”

  • Traci Jeffrey, Executive Director, Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau

 “I think the campaign is fantastic. I’m totally excited, I think it describes Nebraska perfectly.”

  • Pam Frana, Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce

“I think it’s cool. I think it’s neat to put a little humor in the advertising and it will be a good message outside of the state of Nebraska”

  • Jim Steele, President, South Sioux City Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism

“I’m just kind of ornery enough and Nebraska enough and independent enough that I loved them. They struck a chord with me. I liked the honest bit. I’m the biggest supporter of Nebraska because I love Nebraska and what we are.”

  • Pat Coldiron, Owner of Liberty House Bed & Breakfast

“I think it’s great. I found myself cheering up because it really shows the heart of what Nebraska is and just really captures that. I’m excited to see it grow our tourism industry and change that perception that there’s nothing to do here.”

  • Angie Bruna, Director, Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce
         

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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10/17/18
2018 Nebraska Tourism Industry Award winners announced

PRESS RELEASE

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Erin Lenz at 402-471-7755, or erin.lenz@nebraska.gov
Jenn Gjerde at 402-471-3768, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov

2018 Nebraska Tourism Industry Award winners announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (October 17, 2018) – Nebraska tourism industry members honored the hard work and dedication of their peers at the Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet on Wednesday night at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. The event closed out the annual Nebraska Tourism Conference organized by the Nebraska Tourism Commission and hosted by Nebraska City Chamber of Commerce. General Manager/CEO of the Nebraska Rural Radio Association, Craig Larson, with help from Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Tourism Executive Director John Ricks, announced the following 2018 Nebraska Tourism Industry Award winners.

The 2018 Henry Fonda Award, the state’s highest tourism award representing leadership, vision and dedication to the tourism industry, went to Pat Coldiron of Seward (pictured above). Pat is the current owner and operator of the Liberty House Bed and Breakfast in Seward, a historic 129-year-old home with an attached antique store and gift shop. She began her tourism career as the Administrative Assistant at the Seward Chamber of Commerce, advancing eventually to the position of Chamber Executive. She promoted tourism while serving as the Seward Chamber of Commerce Executive Director for decades and upon retiring, she continues to participate in the tourism industry. Pat continues to guide and direct the local Seward County Tourism Committee, owns and operates “Tall Grass Prairie Tours,” has served on the Seward Fourth of July Celebration Committee, served as the co-chair of the Holiday Christmas Festival in Seward, personally took on the task of revamping the Seward County tourism brochure and much more. Pat has dedicated over 30 years to promoting and growing the tourism industry in her state and community.

“Pat Coldiron’s enthusiasm for Nebraska tourism is infectious and contagious. She is a huge asset not only to the Seward community but the state’s tourism industry as a whole,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director. “She has gone the extra mile to bring tourism members of her community together and Seward County is better because of it.”

The Friend of Tourism Award went to the Omaha World-Herald and the Nebraska Community Foundation for the Better Half Series. Omaha World-Herald writers Sarah Baker Hansen and Matt Hansen in collaboration with the Nebraska Community Foundation traveled throughout the state of Nebraska, writing about the amazing discoveries they found along the way. Their articles were published in the Omaha World-Herald and eventually were made into a book in 2017. The Nebraska Community Foundation provided support for this collection of stories that celebrates the intriguing, fascinating and often surprising treasures that make Nebraska such a special place.

The Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations up to 9,999 went to the 97th Annual Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell, Nebraska. Nebraska’s Big Rodeo began in 1921, and 97 years later is attracting sell-out crowds of nearly 20 thousand rodeo fans to the Burwell area.  After upgrades to the rodeo arena, extensive and additional promotion of the event and increased customer service, the 2018 Nebraska’ Big Rodeo was the largest one yet. Every hotel, bed and breakfast and guest house were full from Burwell to Ord and several surrounding counties. The rodeo attracts visitors to the area who would not otherwise come and business reported increases of 3 percent to 25 percent over last year.

The Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations 10,000 or greater was awarded to Cruise Nite in Kearney. Every year, during the third week of July, visitors from all over Nebraska and adjoining states flock to Central Avenue in Kearney for Cruise Nite. Visitors experience six full days of activities, including 500 vehicles lining the streets of downtown Kearney, a parade with cars from every decade, drag races and more. The event is an economic boom for the city, bringing the entire community together and supporting local attractions and businesses.  This year’s event saw record amounts of participants and spectators with an estimated 38,000 people.

The Outstanding Marketing Campaign Award for communities with populations up to 9,999 went to Knox County Visitors Committee. The Knox County Visitors Committee put together a marketing campaign utilizing a video that highlights tourism destinations in their community. The video reached 160,259 people on Facebook, driving views on KnoxCountyNebraska.com up 293 percent. Knox County also showcased the video at the 2018 Nebraska State Fair and saw a 202 percent increase in website views. Through social media, T.V. advertising and further creative advertising and collaboration with out-of-state markets, Knox County was able to effectively spotlight tourism in their area.

The Outstanding Marketing Campaign Award for communities with populations 10,000 or greater was awarded to the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau for the Group Tour Viewmaster Campaign. The North Platte / Lincoln County Visitors Bureau sent group tour operators a mailing that coincided with their current marketing campaign featuring the new Buffalo Bill. The mailing was stamped with Buffalo Bill’s “Buffalo of Approval” and inside the box contained a vintage North Platte postcard and a viewmaster, a device used for viewing images, complete with a reel of images on film featuring North Platte attractions. The campaign was intended to show operators in a unique way, what North Platte and Lincoln County have to offer. Positive responses were received from the mailing and with the booking of a group tour, this single marketing campaign has already returned more than 7 dollars for every dollar spent. Marketing to2018 group tour operators is a long-term proposition and the economic impact of this campaign will continue far into the future as relationships continue to build.

The winner of the Outstanding Agritourism & Ecotourism Entity Award was given to the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln. The Lancaster Event Center has largely influenced Nebraska’s agritourism by being uniquely suited for agricultural, animal, motorsports, tradeshows and youth events that don’t fit other local or regional venues. This venue draws large national events, including America’s 2nd largest indoor farm show, 2nd largest indoor tractor pull, over 120 equine shows and the National High School Finals Rodeo. The Lancaster Event Center recently won the bid to host the 2020 and 2021 National High School Finals Rodeo which will bring an estimated 50,000 visitors to Lincoln who will stay multiple days and have a positive economic impact. In 2017, the Lancaster Event Center held 320+ national, regional and local events that brought in 500,000+ unique visitors. Overall they bring in an estimated 40 million dollars economic impact yearly from outside of Lancaster County.

The Outstanding Tourism Attraction Award was given to the Oregon Trail Ballpark – Home of the Western Nebraska Pioneers in Gering. In 2016, the city of Gering embarked on a major expansion project to add a new ballfield to the Oregon Trail Park. The goal was to improve the youth athletic facilities for local resident families and to increase opportunities for attracting tournaments and events with economic impact throughout Gering and the region. May 29, 2018 was the opening event at the Oregon Trail Ballpark Complex, the first home game of Gering’s Western Nebraska Pioneers and the beginning of new growth in Gering’s sports-recreation-tourism markets. Success started immediately with a strong community-wide support and an average of 936 people in attendance per game. Thirty percent of ticket buyers were from outside the Gering-Scottsbluff area and when they came they spent tourism dollars for tickets, food, fuel, lodging, souvenirs, retail expenditures and more. In its inaugural year, the Oregon Trail Ballpark has successfully met their goals and brought over 30,000 visitors to Nebraska.
 

Friend of Tourism
Omaha World-Herald and the Nebraska Community Foundation
The Better Half Series

Outstanding Event for Communities With Populations up to 9,999
97th Annual Nebraska's Big Rode

Outstanding Event For Communities With Populations Over 10,000
Cruise Nite

Outstanding Marketing Campaign for Communities With Populations up to 9,999
Knox County Visitors Committee

Outstanding Marketing Campaign for Communities With Populations over 10,000
North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau
Group Tour Viewmaster Campaign

Outstanding Agritourism or Ecotourism Entity
Lancaster Event Center

Outstanding Tourism Attraction
Oregon Trail Ballpark - Home of the Western Nebraska Pioneers

       

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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10/17/18
Nebraska Tourism Commission unveils new marketing campaign

PRESS RELEASE

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Erin Lenz at 402-326-9941, or erin.lenz@nebraska.gov
Jenn Gjerde at 402-525-4455, or jenn.gjerde@nebraska.gov

Nebraska Tourism Commission unveils new marketing campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (October 17, 2018) – Nebraska may not be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit, but if you like experiences that are unpretentious and uncomplicated or if you enjoy escaping the big city life for moments of solitude in the open plains, creating your own fun or exploring the quirkiness the state has to offer, chances are, you will like it here.  

This is the premise of Nebraska Tourism Commission’s new marketing campaign that was unveiled Wednesday, October 17 at the Nebraska Tourism Conference.

In 2017, before creating the campaign, the Nebraska Tourism Commission had Brand Lever, a brand consultancy specializing in destination marketing, conduct research. They discovered that consumers don’t consider Nebraska a leisure travel destination, and because they don’t view the state that way, most won’t put forth the effort to find or research things to do here. Therefore, the goal of this new campaign is to change the perception there is nothing to do in Nebraska.

“It was important to the Nebraska Tourism staff, marketing committee and Commissioners to be true to who we are and honest about what we are not.  Along each step of the way we were heavily involved in discovering ourselves and what those outside of our borders thought and felt,” said Deb Loseke, Nebraska Tourism Commission Chair and Columbus/Platte County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director. “So we discovered that we can't offer something to everyone - but to those that we can, this campaign speaks to their sense of adventure and discovering what we as Nebraskans are all about.”

Because of the marketing challenge Nebraska faces, the campaign needs to be disruptive. Nebraska’s qualities of warm and welcoming are good, but the campaign needs to go beyond that. The new approach addresses people’s preconceived notions about the state using self-deprecating humor.

“What we set out to do is create a brand that is rooted in a core human value that is shared by Nebraskans and potential visitors to the state,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism executive director. “The new brand platform is defined by honesty. The overarching concept of honesty is rooted in a mindset that values transparency, purity and simplicity. A way of embracing the not-so-obvious bits of life. We feel we’ve accomplished just that.”

In spring of 2018, the campaign was tested in key out-of-state markets that have the greatest potential to deliver visitors. Testing proved that the advertising effectively overcomes significant hurdles Nebraska faces as a leisure destination, the campaign increased likelihood to visit for most or increased their potential time in the state. Respondents also recognized and understood the self-deprecating humor and it worked well for them, in fact, the humor is a key reason why the campaign was so well received.

“I think the brilliance of the campaign is it captures the essence of who we are in Nebraska, while also understanding the type of consumer who is attracted to who we are and speaks right to them,” said David Fudge, Nebraska Travel Association (NETA) president and NEBRASKAland Days executive director. “It also frees those of us on the front lines to be authentic with people who come in to our facilities.”

The content was created from a statewide photo and video shoot in August 2018. In the advertisements you will find tanking, unique and quirky locations like Carhenge and Hollywood Candy, conservation photographer Michael Forsberg roaming the Great Plains, Toadstool Geologic Park and more.  

“This campaign rollout and release is a perfect example of a team of tourism professionals working together to grow our state and the coinciding economic impact of tourism,” said Jeff Maul, Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.

The look and feel of the campaign will carry over into VisitNebraska.com, the official Nebraska Travel Guide and on social media using #HonestlyNE.

The new campaign will begin in spring of 2019 in key out-of-state markets.

     

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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