State tourism officials are asking Nebraskans for input on how to generate more buzz — and more tourism dollars.
Kathy McKillip, director of the Nebraska Travel and Tourism Division, says the governor’s office and state lawmakers want to focus on areas that go beyond slogans and signs, instead, creating an overall vision that attracts people to the Husker State.
“There’s probably barriers out there that we’re not aware of that we need to change because we’re so used to doing business as status quo, which is part of this process,” McKillip says, “to push that envelope, mostly to make us more efficient and effective.”
The legislature last session passed a bill (LB 684) which calls for developing a statewide strategic plan to cultivate and promote tourism.
“Looking at programs that have worked well in the past, maybe they’ve outlived their lifespan now,” McKillip says. “Maybe we need to look at what other states are doing that gets more people in the parks, more people out looking at the scenic highways and byways and being more active as a participant when it comes to being the consumer and the traveler.”
McKillip says the state probably doesn’t do a good enough job of asking people to come back to Nebraska and enjoy what the state’s residents see every day.
“I don’t know if in the past our marketing dollars have focused in the best direction,” McKillip says. “Maybe we’ve been too much for too many people. We need to have a bigger approach that’s more laser-driven that shows specific areas of beauty in Nebraska and how we can get people here.”
The state has hired the Minneapolis-based consulting firm, Conventions, Sports and Leisure (CSL), which has worked with tourism efforts in almost every state.
McKillip is leading a series of focus group meetings in cities statewide over the next several months. Recommendations will be forwarded to Nebraska lawmakers after the public input process is complete.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice