The Nebraska Tourism Commission Board of Directors is holding a special meeting Friday morning after they received an unfavorable audit from the state. The audit shows the Commission spent millions of dollars with an advertising agency, tens-of-thousands of dollars for a guest speaker and more than $18-thousand to move an employee. They will also address the future employment status of director Kathy McKillip.
Adam Weinberg is the communications and outreach director for the Platte Institute for Economic Research and says these were the people behind the popular “Nebraska Nice” tourism campaign and two years later the cost of that is still following us.
Weinberg says, “The biggest thing that is in this report is they had a very cozy relationship with the ad agency that was responsible for the “Nebraska Nice” campaign.
Not only were they going over budget on the contract they had with the ad agency but this ad agency was giving them nice dinners and spending time with them at conferences so you really had the classic example of government and business getting together and doing each other favors so that these contracts can get out of control.”
Weinberg says Nebraska lawmakers really need to consider whether the Tourism Commission is needed. He says, “We have to look carefully at whether these are the kinds of things that should be done by state government or whether they could be better done by private industry or by community non-profits.” He adds this raises the question whether there is a proper role for government in promotion of tourism and private industry.