We’re taking time today to talk about and celebrate tourism in Nebraska.  Throughout this week, there have been events all over Nebraska organized by individual communities to highlight tourism in their areas. They should be proud, their passion has helped make tourism the third largest industry in Nebraska.

This week has a special meaning for us. We have a close connection with many of the people across Nebraska who impact tourism and their communities on a daily basis. They’re passionate about all the great things Nebraska has to offer and they’re excited to share it with people within their communities, and across the globe.

Here are some fun facts:

  • More than $4.5 billion is spent in our state for travel and tourism
  • More than $627 million in tax revenues are generated by domestic and international travelers
  • 44,965 jobs are generated by domestic and internal travelers.
    *These numbers are from the U.S. Travel Association Impact of Travel and State Economies 2014

That’s a huge impact on our state’s economy. This is why it’s important for tourism to remain a strong industry here in Nebraska. There are a ton of attractions that pull in visitors from all over the country and the world. These visitors come to Omaha for the Henry Doorly Zoo and the College World Series. They come to Lincoln for Husker football Saturdays. In the spring, the Sandhill Crane Migration in Grand Island and Kearney is a huge draw for international visitors. In Valentine, visitors canoe down the Niobrara River. This week, Phil Jackson, the famous NBA coach, visited Fort Robinson and Northwest Nebraska.

There’s a big difference between Eastern Nebraska and Western Nebraska. As you travel across the state, you’ll be trading a metro downtown skyline view for the wide open prairies in the Sandhills. While you’re out there, you’ll see firsthand how agri-tourism is making an impact on Nebraska’s tourism industry.

Visitors come from Europe to the 1+1 Ranch in Burwell to learn how what it takes to be a cowboy. They visit the Big Blue Ranch in Burchard to experience the quiet nature. They go to McCook and Burwell to watch the prairie chickens in the spring. Hunters come from all over the country and the world to find pheasants, turkeys, deer, you name it. These hunters are willing to spend thousands of dollars to have that opportunity.

It really is incredible to think about all of the tourism opportunities that wait for us here in Nebraska. If you have a chance to travel, find a new place to go in Nebraska. I’d be willing to bet there’s a few things out there that you haven’t experienced yet.