(Neb)-State Tourism Director Visiting Panhandle For Tourism Week
CRAWFORD - This is National Travel and Tourism Week, and Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director John Ricks is celebrating with an 11-stop tour of the state that began yesterday with a town hall meeting at the High Plains Homestead and Drifters Cook Shack northwest of Crawford and continues today with events in Scottsbluff, Gering, and Bayard.
Ricks says 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. He 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.
About half of the stops on Ricks' tour are town hall sessions. More than a dozen people made the 17-mile trek north of Crawford for the one yesterday. Concerns included the cost of liability insurance for private operators of trail rides, and both state and federal limits on photographers and videographers using drones or taking pictures of public land from private property.
There were also complaints about the attitude and actions of hunters who cross onto private land without permission, then get angry when asked to leave. Two landowners also involved in tourism said they feared for their lives in incidents dealing with angry armed men, although one admitted flattening the tires of their vehicle by removing the valve stems so they couldn't leave before a game warden arrived.
Ricks has a busy schedule today, starting at 9:00 at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff for a Travel and Tourism Week Proclamation ceremony. He'll then tour Scottsbluff's Riverside Discovery Center zoo before lunching with local tourism boards at the Gering Civic Center. Ricks will end the Panhandle portion of his tour with a stop at Chimney Rock at 2:30.
Tomorrow, he has a tourism breakfast in North Platte, a Tourism Commission meeting at Central Community College in Lexington, and a town hall meeting at the Archway in Kearney. Wednesday, Ricks will take part in the Omaha Tourism Awards Luncheon and visit the Durham Museum, also in Omaha, then finish his tour Friday morning with town hall in Norfolk.
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