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Passport program, tourism week to kick off visitor season

May 08, 2017

STEVE FREDERICK | Special Projects Editor | Scottsbluff Star Herald 

The astronomical event of a lifetime will get a most of the attention this summer, but it won’t eclipse other events on the local tourism calendar.

Nebraska will kick off its annual Nebraska Passport tourism program Monday, with 11 of its 80 stops in the Panhandle, including four in or near Scotts Bluff County. Regional stops include Fort Sidney Museum and Post Commander’s Home (Sidney), Gibbons Honey Farms (Crawford), Fort Robinson State Park (Crawford), Ash Hollow State Historical Park (Lewellen), 17 Ranch Winery (Lewellen), Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center (Chadron) and Carhenge (Alliance). Closer to home, Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area, Legacy of the Plains Museum, the Tangled Tumbleweed in Scottsbluff and Double L Country Store and Café near Harrisburg also made the list.

The annual campaign encourages travelers to explore the state while gathering stamps and earning prizes. It runs from May 1 through Sept. 30 and features 80 attractions on 10 themed tours. Participants this year can celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday while collecting stamps on their 2017 Nebraska Passport. For each completed themed tour, participants win 15 $1 Nebraska Lottery Scratch tickets. Travelers also can receive a 2017 Nebraska Passport T-Shirt (for 10 stamps), a Nebraska 150 ceramic Mug (for 20 stamps), a gift box of Baker’s Chocolates (for 40 stamps), a 2018 Nebraska Tourism Calendar (for 60 stamps) and a Passport Gift Box, including a jacket and car decal (for all 80 stamps). Prizes are cumulative. A grand-prize drawing for an Omaha Steaks Butcher’s Share quarter of beef and free chest freezer will be held in October. In addition, a drawing for 300 $1 Nebraska Lottery Scratch tickets and one of four Nebraska weekend trips ($500 value each) will also be awarded. Participants can download and participate in the program via a free mobile app downloadable from the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

Local tourism officials have big plans for National Tourism Week, outlined Friday by Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Karla Niedan-Streeks and Scotts Bluff Ara Visitors Bureau Director Brenda Leisy. The week runs May 7-13. Local attractions and conference facilities host more than 250,000 visitors and conference delegates annually, creating $46.8 million in direct travel spending in our area. Tourism is responsible for creating 700 tourism jobs in Scotts Bluff County.

“It’s our opportunity to shine the light on tourism,” Niedan-Streeks said.

The week will begin Monday, May 8, with a proclamation ceremony at 9 a.m. featuring at Legacy of the Plains Museum featuring mayors of Gering, Scottsbluff and Terrytown and Scotts Bluff County commissioners. Care packages will be distributed all week to the first 100 incoming passengers flying Pen Air into Western Nebraska Regional Airport.

Events Tuesday, May 9, will spotlight Scotts Bluff National Monument and Riverside Discovery Center. Participants can visit with a Monument ranger inside the visitor center and watch a 15-minute video that gives a quick history of the bluffs. Riverside Discovery Center will be offering the Lil’ Explorers program for ages 2-5, a program that takes place most Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the zoo will offer keeper talks at different exhibits. At 2 p.m. it will offer an enrichment session, where staff will teach guests to build animal enrichment items for chimpanzees, spider monkeys and other animals.

Wednesday, May 10, will bring “Wear Red for Tourism Day.” Industry stakeholders, frontline employees, elected officials and residents are encouraged to wear red to demonstrate support for the tourism industry. From 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. at the Gering Civic Center John Ricks, director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission, will host a tourism town hall meeting to discuss marketing and promotion plans for the state and share local ideas.

The local Passport stops will be featured Thursday, May 11. The four local stops invite vistors to stop by, pick up a passport and start collecting stamps.



This article is from the Scottsbluff Star Herald. To read the full article, click here:

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GROW Nebraska is a not-for-profit organization based in rural Nebraska. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides market access, education and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska's educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors. For more information, please visit

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