Nebraska tourism on the rise

By: Kayla Bremer

Nebraska is host to some big events every year and it's put up some impressive numbers when it comes to the state's tourism industry.

We may not have mountains or the beach, but more and more people are making their way to Nebraska for vacation.

A recent report shows tourists brought more than $3 billion to the state last year alone.  That's up more than 6 percent from 2011.

New attractions in the capital city could bring even more.

“If we make Lincoln attractive, people come in one time, they spend money, they have a great time and they're going to come back again,” Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jeff Maul said.

The study shows half the money brought to Nebraska is from hotel revenue.  The other half is from visitors staying with relatives and day travelers to the state spending money on food and entertainment.

Those numbers could grow in Lincoln once the Pinnacle Bank Arena opens, especially for hotels near the new entertainment district.

“The downtown area, the Haymarket, with that stuff going on in the new arena it's going to be booming,” Boe Lindvall of the Courtyard Marriott said.  “You know, restaurants, all those things are going to have so many more people down here.”

The arena and Haymarket are only a small part of what brings people to Lincoln.  The Lincoln Visitors Bureau works year–round to keep tourism humming.

This week, hundreds traveled here for the National Amputee Golf Championships.

The Lincoln Marathon also draws runners from around the country.

“We've always done a really good job hosting events in Lincoln,” Maul said.  “Lincoln's always been a great host to state high school events, Husker football and a lot of other things, but what we're doing now is giving people something else to do.” 

The travel and tourism industry also created more than 36,000 jobs throughout the state in 2012.