This is a good time to make plans to explore Nebraska, and the 2011 Nebraska Passport is a good way to get started. The passport program highlights Nebraska's unique attractions and offers travelers a range of activities and places to visit during peak summer travel season.
The promotion encourages travelers to rediscover the road trip and the some of the many opportunities for stops along the way. Souvenir passports are now available at the 33 locations selected to be part of this year's promotion, including the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte, Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, Ole's Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, Nebraska Firefighters Museum & Education Center in Kearney and many others.
More information is available at www.nebraskapassport.com or by calling l Nebraska Tourism at 1(888)444-1867. Travelers collecting stamps from each location visited are eligible for prizes while supplies last.
The passport promotion highlights museums including: the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, the Nebraska Firefighters Museum and Education Center in Kearney, and the Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History. It features unique attractions including Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Boys Town in Omaha, and Arbor Day Farm's Tree Adventure in Nebraska City.
There are opportunities for outdoor recreation at stops including: the Wildcat Hills Nature Center in Gering, Ponca State Park, the Lake McConaughy Visitor/Water Interpretive Center in Ogallala, Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park in Burwell, and the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in Valentine.
The 33 locations featured in this year's Nebraska Passport offer historical connections to our past and the people and places that contributed to shaping our state, as well as opportunities to sample locally grown foods and Nebraska wines. They represent a few of the wide variety of activities and destinations our state has to offer.
Whether you're looking for a short getaway or a vacation destination, Nebraska is rich in opportunities to take in beautiful views along scenic byways, tours of the state's 25 wineries, local festivals and other special events, and farms and ranches offering hunting and other sporting opportunities. Nebraska's eight state parks, 65 state recreation areas, waterways, and recreational trails provide additional opportunities for outdoor activities.
The tourism and travel industry has an important economic impact on our state. It generates more than $3 billion a year. Total travel expenditures in Nebraska have increased by more than $2.4 billion from 1990 to 2010. In 2009, tourism accounted for more than 45,000 jobs statewide.
Travelers will find that their lodging, dining and entertainment dollars go further in Nebraska. Our state remains one of the nation's most cost-effective destinations. We encourage Nebraskans and those in surrounding states to get out and explore Nebraska this year.
More information on the 2011 Nebraska Passport is available online at NebraskaPassport.com. Interactive maps, road trip ideas, trip planners, and more travel information are available at VisitNebraska.gov.