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Tourism prepares for big week
April 23, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
During the first week of May, local tourism professionals and venues will highlight what the area has to offer as the tourism season officially gets underway.

From May 2 – 10, the cities of Gering, Scottsbluff and Terrytown, along with Scotts Bluff County, will commemorate National Travel and Tourism Week with numerous activities to celebrate local tourism.
Prior to the official start, local tourism officials will play host in Colorado to the Colorado Society of Association Executives for their May 1 luncheon. It’s an opportunity to showcase the area for travel and convention business along the Front Range.

The week kicks off with a proclamation ceremony at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 4 in front of the Gering Civic Center. Mayors Tony Kaufman of Gering, Randy Meininger of Scottsbluff and Kent Greenwalt of Terrytown will read and sign an official proclamation for Tourism Week. Several dignitaries will also be making a “grand arrival” for the event.

“This is our opportunity to join with destination marketing organizations all over the nation to commemorate tourism as an economic driver, a provider of jobs and an overall champion of travel and tourism at the local, regional and state level,” said Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCVB). “A majority of our visitors come from the Colorado Front Range Area. The May 1 luncheon gives us the opportunity to expose that group to what we have to offer.”

Brenda Leisy, director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau, said that for the past few years, tourism groups have been recognizing the Western Nebraska Regional Airport as a valuable tourism partner. So on Tuesday, May 5, they will unveil a welcome mural at the airport’s baggage pickup area that will welcome visitors to the area.

That evening, Monument Inns and Suites in Gering will host a barbecue under their new gazebo, west of the main building. The public and tourism stakeholders are invited to see this new outdoor recreation area.

On Wednesday, everyone is encouraged to wear red in support of travel and tourism.

This year’s Nebraska Passport Program starts on Thursday, May 7. Four area attractions have been chosen to participate: the Union Bar in Gering, Gering Bakery, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Harrison.

Also on Thursday, the Gering Business Club is hosting a picnic lunch at the monument. The cost is $8.50 a person and reservations may be made by calling GCVB at (308) 536-6886.

On Friday, local frontline employees will have the opportunity to participate in the Tourism Toolkit Tour of local attractions. Operators of local attractions will also greet the bus tour and tell the story of their attraction. Niedan-Streeks said it’s a great morning to learn bout what the area has to offer, so employees can then help travelers when they ask about what to see and do. “As destination marketers, one of the most important things we can do is help our frontline employees to have as much information as possible to be ambassadors for our community,” she said.

The week wraps up on Friday from 3 – 6 p.m. at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Scottsbluff. The public is invited for hot dogs grilled by local hometown cowboy and professional steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch. A dunk tank, bounce house and other activities are also being planned.
During a Monday morning news conference, Niedan-Streeks outlined some of the bricks and mortar expansion that tourism venues have been taking on. They include the continuing expansion of Legacy of the Plains Museum, a large capital construction project at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center that will run in the $3 million range.

There’s also some planned expansion for the Gering Civic Center, a new conference and event center, Warehouse 21, currently under construction, and a new hotel property on Highway 26 in Scottsbluff.
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