Local and county government and tourism officials were joined by Nebraska’s Tourism Commission Director Monday morning in Scottsbluff to kick off National Travel and Tourism Week, which runs May 6th through the 12th.
John Ricks told those in attendance at Western Nebraska Regional Airport that tourism adds $4-billion dollars to the state economy with 40,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, but with lots of potential growth remaining.
Ricks said the eclipse last year was the best tourism marketing tool Nebraska could have had, generating a lot of visitors, many of them indicating in surveys they would return.
“After they were here, 40% of them said they would be back in one or two years and another 45% said they would be back in three to five years. So as a marketing guy what they says is something happened while they were here, something they didn’t expect or weren’t aware of.”
Ricks also praised the Nebraska Passport Program, which generated an estimated $6 million in visitor spending in 2017, resulting in $469,000 in taxes for the local communities.
Ricks says one of the biggest and easiest things people can do to support tourism in Nebraska and elsewhere is to use all their vacation days from work. Ricks says national stats show up to 50% of people don’t do that.
Ricks was touring Scottsbluff’s Riverside Discovery Center zoo Monday morning before lunch with local tourism officials, and will end the Panhandle portion of his tour with a stop at Chimney Rock.
Tomorrow, he has stops in North Platte, Lexington, and Kearney. Wednesday and Thursday Ricks will be in Omaha for a couple of events before finishing his tour Friday morning with town hall in Norfolk.