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Tourism efforts shift into gear
April 29, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen From left, Shannon Brunner of Monument Inn and Suites visits with Brenda Leisy of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau and Karla Niedan-Streeks of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau, prior to discussing a busy week of activities that will kick off National Tourism Week.

May 1 –7 is National Tourism Week and local people involved the state’s third largest industry are planning a number of activities to promote our unique area.

“President Reagan declared the first week of May as National Tourism Week back in 1983,” said Karla Niedan-Streeks, Executive Director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re literally joining tourism professionals from around the nation to promote a really fun industry.”

Niedan-Streeks said they use the week to increase awareness among those familiar with the area, and introduce everyone else to the sites and activities the area offers.

The week starts off on Monday, May 2 at 9 a.m. at the Monument Shadows Golf Course in Gering as the mayors of Gering, Terrytown and Scottsbluff, along with the County Commission Chairman, sign proclamations for National Tourism Week.

“We’ll also have a few tourism surprises that morning,” Niedan-Streeks said. “Like everything involved in tourism, refreshments will be served.”

Then on Monday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., the owners and staff of Monument Inn and Suites in Gering will be serving barbecue lunch under their new gazebo on 11th Street (weather permitting). More information on that event is available by calling Shannon Brunner at 308-436-1950.

On Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., local tourism partners will be at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport conference room for Airport Appreciation Day. Brenda Leisy, director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau, said in the past the group has done a mural, installed brochure racks and added signage. “This year we have another special unveiling,” Leisy said. “We encourage the public to come out and see what it is.

Niedan-Streeks added the airport is important to tourism, as it allows them to recruit conferences and meetings, as well as bring in special speakers for any number of conferences held throughout the community.

On Wednesday, everyone in the community is encouraged to wear red in support of the tourism industry. “Red us a universal color for all of us in the tourism industry,” Niedan-Streeks said. “For those of us in Nebraska, it should be easy to find something red to wear.”

Thursday, May 5 is another busy day. It’s the first day for tourists to start the Nebraska Passport Program. There are three local stops on the Passport this year. They include Scotts Bluff National Monument in Gering, the Blue Stem Shoppe in downtown Scottsbluff, and Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell. Two other stops represented by the tourism partners are Chimney Rock and Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.

“It’s a great adventure to get the whole family out and visit all of Nebraska,” Leisy said.

Also on Thursday, the Platte Valley Attractions group is offering some great deals for anyone who wants to come out and look. Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff is offering $1 off admission for the day. The Fort Laramie Historic Site has free admission, $1 root beer floats and 10 percent off books in the bookstore. That evening the Scottsbluff Schools Orchestra and the Sprouts Program will present their spring concert at the Historic Midwest Theater in downtown Scottsbluff.

On Friday, local businesses are invited to send their front line employees on a bus trip around the area to learn about area attractions and what they offer. The Tourism Toolkit helps people become familiar with tourism venues to share that knowledge with travelers to the area. Space is limited and registration can be made by calling 308-436-6886.
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