Tourism promotion bill considered

The Nebraska Tourism Commission would have greater control over promotional products under a bill considered March 1 by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist48' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Stinner'>Sen. John Stinner</a>
Sen. John Stinner

LB637, introduced by Gering Sen. John Stinner, would allow the commission to develop and approve state marketing campaigns and to produce, sell and distribute tourism promotional products. Current law does not allow the commission to do so.

Revenue generated by any sales would be credited to the commission’s promotional cash fund.

“The commission must have the ability to develop and sell promotional products as part of a marketing strategy,” Stinner said. “LB637 is an essential tool for the commission to bring growth to our tourism industry.”

John Ricks, executive director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission, testified in favor of the bill. He said there is high demand for items bearing the state’s new tourism slogan: “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

Since the unveiling of the slogan in October 2018, Ricks said there has been a 50 percent increase in traffic to the commission’s website and a 65 percent increase in requests for Nebraska travel guides. He estimated the value of media coverage of the slogan at $7.2 million.

“That’s coverage you simply cannot buy,” Ricks said.

The inability under current law to sell t-shirts, coffee mugs and other items carrying the slogan is costing the commission money, Ricks said.

David Fudge, President of the Nebraska Travel Association, also testified in favor of the bill. Fudge said that when he first heard of the new tourism campaign he asked Ricks where he could buy a t-shirt with the new slogan. He said he was perplexed when told that he couldn’t.

“We’re missing a golden opportunity to turn people from all parts of the country into brand ambassadors,” Fudge said.

No one testified against LB637 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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