Archive for March, 2012

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Grant Proposals

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) recently sent out a news release seeking grant proposals from organizations or groups of individuals interested in enhancing the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crop industry.  If you are aware of any organization interested in applying, please send them the link listed in the below paragraph.  Specialty crops are defined by USDA as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.


NDA will administer a two-phase competitive grant application process.  Phase I will involve the submission of concept proposals, which will allow applicants to explain the main points of their project.  The concept proposals will be competitively scored.  Projects with the highest combined scores will serve as recommendations to the Director of Agriculture as to which applicants should be invited to complete the Phase II of the application process.  Grant proposal guidelines and application information are available on the NDA web site at  Concept proposals are due by April 13th


If you have any questions, please contact:

Casey Foster

Ag Promotion Coordinator – Value Added

Nebraska Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 94947

Lincoln, NE 68509

(402) 471-4876

The Importance of Ecotourism By Governor Dave Heineman

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The Importance of Ecotourism

By Governor Dave Heineman

March 26, 2012


Dear Fellow Nebraskans:


Last week, I was pleased host Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado as we met to discuss common efforts and issues related to ecotourism and economic development. In addition to discussing tourism efforts, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to view the world-renowned migration of the sandhill cranes, a significant ecotourism attraction in Nebraska.


From mid-February to mid-April each year, visitors to the Platte River valley in south-central Nebraska can enjoy the migration of 90 percent of the world’s sandhill cranes. Our location along the central flyway provides wildlife watchers the opportunity to experience the annual migration of 500,000 Sandhill cranes as they stop along a 40 mile stretch of the Platte River en route to their summer breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia.


The abundance of rivers and waterways in our state create excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation. Our amazing state parks also play a vital role in attracting visitors. Nebraska offers a range of landscapes from pine-covered bluffs in the northwest to the rolling Sandhills and prairie grasslands of central Nebraska. There are unique and picturesque rock formations in western Nebraska, scenic river communities along the Missouri River and acres of wide open range and pastureland in between.


Ecotourism is vital in Nebraska where 97 percent of the land is privately owned. Forging partnerships with private land owners are critical in providing access to our beautiful landscapes and bountiful hunting opportunities.


According to statistics gathered by the Nebraska Division of Tourism and Travel in the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraskans and visitors to Nebraska together made more than 19 million trips in the state in 2010 to destinations 100 miles or more away from home. Travelers spent nearly $4 billion in Nebraska during 2010 on day trips more than 100 miles away and trips with overnight stays. Annual spending on these trips has increased by $2.3 billion since 1990. Jobs attributable to travel in Nebraska totaled more than 45,000 in 2010. For trips by visitors, the leading states of origin were Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Missouri and South Dakota.


Together with hunting, fishing, birding, camping, hiking, and biking, opportunities for outdoor recreation are some of the fastest growing segments of our tourism industry. Growth in all these areas is helping to make Nebraska a tourism destination. In addition, visitors experience all the great things Nebraska has to offer, and then spread the word to friends and family members. I look forward to continued growth in ecotourism across our state.

Brochure Swap

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

This purpose of this NEBTOUR notice is to help you drop off your travel literature at the Interstate 80 visitor information centers during the 2012 Nebraska Travel Association (NETA) Brochure Swap at the Dawson County Fairgrounds (100 Plum Creek Parkway) in Lexington on May 17, 2012.


Vacation guides from the staffed Nebraska Tourism Division information centers will be on hand to take your brochures for distribution during the 2012 travel season.


Please keep the following guidelines and hints in mind to have a successful drop off:


1.      Keep track of how many brochures you give to each information center at this year’s Brochure Swap. This will give you a good idea of how many to bring at next year’s swap.


2.      If you’ve never previously attended a Brochure Swap, and are unsure how many brochures to drop off, a good range to begin with is 50-100. If the vacation guides need more throughout the season, give them a contact person to call to request additional supplies.


3.      Storage space at the information centers is limited. Vacation guides can decline to accept the number of brochures you want to drop off if they have no room to store large quantities of them, or if they feel their center will not go through as many brochures as you’re dropping off.


4.       When choosing which information centers to give your literature to, give it only to those centers heading in your direction, not to those past your location. For example, if your attraction is in Omaha, give your literature to the eastbound information centers, not the westbound ones.


5.      Newsprint literature must be boxed and brochures/magazines must be either boxed or bundled together.


For more information about the Interstate 80 information center brochure drop off: Micheal Collins (402.471.3795,


For more information and to register for the 2012 NETA Brochure Swap, visit the Nebraska Travel Association’s Web site:


Micheal Collins

Tel: 402.471.3795


If a tree falls in the forest and then springs back up as a joke, do the squirrels freak out?


Book your stay at a BandB

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The host hotel for the 2012 Nebraska Travel Conference is Monument Inn & Suites, located next door to the Gering Civic Center. A block of rooms has been set aside there until September 9, 2012 for the room rate of $75 per night plus tax. You can contact them at 308-436-1950 to make your reservation.


Once the room block at this lodging property is full, the overflow hotel is the Hampton Inn & Suites, located at the intersection of Avenue B and Highway 26 in Scottsbluff, approximately 15 minutes from the civic center. A block of rooms has been set aside there until October 2, 2012 for the room rate of $84 per night plus tax. You can contact them at 308-635-5200 to make your reservation.


To receive this group rate, be sure to mention you’re with the 2012 Nebraska Travel Conference when making your reservations.


For delegates staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites, motorcoach transportation will be provided between the property and the civic center throughout the conference.


More information about the 2012 Nebraska Travel Conference (October 24-25) at the Gering Civic Center in Gering will be coming in the next few months.


Hope to see you all there!


Micheal Collins

Service For Those Who Serve

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Service For Those Who Serve

Growing your government business is a good way to boost occupancy and give back.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Caryn Eve Murray

Not all forms of military service require uniforms, weaponry or deployment to foreign countries. Hotels, particularly those located near government agencies and bases, have been pledging their allegiance to the nation’s defense, aerospace and related areas, providing discounts to military personnel, contractors and subcontractors for years. It’s a credible combination of sound business practices and a bit of patriotism, with the reduced-rate offerings often facilitated through the FedRooms program established by the U.S. General Services Administration.

And yes, there’s an excitement factor built in sometimes as well. In Lexington Park, Maryland, where a Days Inn property is located directly across from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, things can get mighty busy – and crowded – during military training sessions or testing of one of the Navy’s cutting-edge new airplanes after its arrival at the base.

“We know they are going to test this thing and we will see a lot of technicians, everyone coming down here,” said Ashish Patel, managing partner in Sandalwood Management, which owns the 134-room Days Inn. The buzz is good for business – at least that’s his plan.

“Hopefully they will stay with me,” he said, offering as his property’s magnet a combo of discount rates and amenities, such as the built-in pool, assortment of recently enlarged rooms, complimentary hot breakfasts and a fitness center presently under construction.

But, Patel said, the overall hotel market along the main traffic corridor, known as Three Notch Road, has become well-populated by more than a dozen competing hotels, much of the construction newer or higher-end. So he has focused his budget-property’s attention solely on the small-business subcontractors within the government market, “the ones who are really on a budget.” They’re seeking a low price with as much value added as possible, he said, and that has been his mission since purchasing the Days Inn and beginning its refurbishment in 2007. In fact, he said, to keep things rolling until the fitness center is completed, he is already sending guests to a World Gym a few blocks from the hotel, with complimentary passes the hotel provides for them.

A similar scene has shaped the landscape further north, near the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. “Ninety-five percent of our business, most of it, is military business,” said Charlotte Whitehead, general manager of the Comfort Inn at Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Maryland, a quarter-mile from the base. Whitehead said the area has been filling up with competing properties on different tiers, so it’s important to strike a balance that pairs the government-approved discount rate with the right mix of amenities.

Whitehead knows that, with only 7 kitchens among her 92 rooms, she may not always land the big contracts for large groups seeking to stay near one another for long-term periods. “If I had, maybe 30 rooms with kitchens, I could have landed a bigger military group,” she said. “But we get conferences from the base and that is real big.”

Both Patel and Whitehead said it helps to know your demographic – what is needed in order to give value, and what exceeds that – and then embrace it. Both carefully target that market, and plan their offerings accordingly.

The upside of the equation, however, is that because of the location, said Patel, “it is a ready market.” No advertising needed.

This form of government service is also, in many ways, a recession-beater and a business-builder.

“On any given day of the week, you have certain ebbs and flows to occupancy and demand,” said Thom Puccio, director of global segment sales for Choice Hotels International. About half of Choice’s 4,500 hotels are in the process of bidding for new government business contracts and have been active providers for some time.

“We are looking at this as another layer in occupancy,” Puccio said. “Depending upon how much availability I have on any given day, how many rooms I have vacant, I may shut down [government-available rooms] or open it up if I have a lot of availability. So I look at government business as another element that feeds into your hotel to generate revenue.”

Clearly, he said, “in first-tier cities, like New York, Chicago and Boston, there may not be a need for much government business.”

The bottom line is two-fold, he said. “If you look at the Department of Defense alone, you are talking about thousands of dollars expended in individual geographic locations. And that is only one agency.”

The other bottom line is a little less about dollars and more about dedication: “It is a service to the government. The ultimate goal of the program is to provide lodging for government travelers,” he said.

“People would not be a part of this if they didn’t think it was beneficial to them,” said Joseph McInerney, president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “It brings people to stay with them at the hotel and secondly, it is a patriotic thing to do for the military people working on our behalf.”

And then there is the logical extension of that – this time a charitable one, extended to the troops themselves – which came to fruition late last year. Bipartisan legislation created a program known as Hotels for Heroes, which was enacted in late December, enabling owners of hotel reward points to donate them to members of the milirary and their families – similar to a program already in effect in the airline industry for frequent flier mile donations.

McInerney said the AH&LA will be working with the Fisher House Foundation, which assists military families with accommodations when a member of the service requires hospitalization or treatment.

“We are working on the program right now and plan to make an announcement soon on how the hotels will be working with Fisher House. It is part of a full package,” he said.


Saturday, March 31st, 2012

There is still time to register for the upcoming GOVERNOR’S CONFERENCE ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT which will be Wednesday, April 18 in North Platte.   A full day of breakout sessions will follow a dynamic presentation by April Kelly on “Partnering Graditute and Networking for Success”.  President of Gratitude Academy, Inc., April was formerly with PayPal and Linked In.  Lunch includes recognizing the “Connecting Nebraska” award winners and the “First Lady Outstanding Achievement Awards.” There is also a Youth Entrepreneur track with limited scholarships available. Registration is $50.


Linda Fettig, MA, MS.
Executive Director
Nebraska Rural Development Commission
308-380-4966  (phone and cell)  308-749-2223 (fax)

      “The Rural Development Commission advocates for effective development in rural Nebraska” and is Nebraska’s federally-designated State Rural Development Council.

Useful tips for around the house

Saturday, March 31st, 2012
Don’t hit your finger

2012 Nebraska Travel Conference

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

For more information: Karla Niedan-Streeks,


For those who attended the 2004 Nebraska Travel Conference in Gering, a number of you arrived at the conference on what was known as the “Magic Bus.” The bus started its route in Omaha where it picked up conference delegates at predetermined locations along Interstate 80, such as Lincoln, Kearney, and North Platte. After the conference was over, the bus returned delegates to their stops.


One of the reasons behind the “Magic Bus” was to encourage a greater number of delegates to attend the conference because they wouldn’t have to drive a long distance to Gering, especially those in the eastern part of the state.


But another reason was to give delegates added time to meet, network with each other, talk about what they’re doing in their communities or area, and to hopefully also meet new friends on the bus. After talking with delegates who rode the “Magic Bus” the last time, most of them found it to be a positive experience. They had a lot of fun letting someone else do the driving while they sat back and mingled.


Karla with the Gering Convention & Visitors Bureau would like to bring back the “Magic Bus” for this year’s conference and she would like to know what the interest is out there for this idea. So she’s asking you to contact her if you might be interested in riding the “Magic Bus” to the conference. She’s not asking you for a confirmation at this time; she’s just wanting to know if it’s something she should offer as an added incentive to encourage you to attend the conference.


If enough people express an interest in a bus, information about the cost and number and location of stops will be determined and sent out via NEBTOUR and through the Gering CVB.


2012 Nebraska Travel Conference

October 24-25

Gering Civic Center, Gering

10 Best Travel Writing Books of All Time

Saturday, March 31st, 2012


We recently published an article that you may be interested in entitled, “10 Best Travel Writing Books of All Time” (

After having followed your blog for a while, I feel that this one article would align well with your blog’s subject matter. I thought perhaps you’d be interested in sharing this article with your readers? Thanks, and keep up the great blogging!

Helen Olson

Travel Industry Responds to President Obama’s National Tourism Strategy Announcement

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Travel Industry Responds to President Obama’s National Tourism Strategy Announcement

by on January 20, 2012 in Marketing, This Just In, Tourism

Yesterday, in Orlando, FL, President Obama announced new initiatives that will significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States. According to a White House statement, yesterday’s announcement calls for a national strategy to make the United States the world’s top travel and tourism destination, as part of a comprehensive effort to spur job creation. The number of travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes – such as China, Brazil, and India – is projected to grow by 135%, 274% and 50% respectively by 2016 when compared to 2010.

The U.S. tourism and travel industry is a substantial component of U.S. GDP and employment, representing 2.7 percent of GDP and 7.5 million jobs in 2010 – with international travel to the United States supporting 1.2 million jobs alone. The travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increased its share of the international travel market.

Key components of the President’s initiative include the creation of an interagency task force charged with developing a National Travel & Tourism Strategy, shortening visa wait times, expanding Global Entry, promoting our national parks and working to expand the visa waiver program.

Tourism advocates are touting this groundbreaking announcement as a major victory, and rightfully so, but the question remains, how will this strategy affect and assist American place marketers in the years to come?  We welcome your thoughts here.

Here are some snapshots at what some of your colleagues are saying about the announcement:

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority:

LVCVA President/CEO Rossi Ralenkotter, who was in attendance for the announcement, commended the President’s actions. “Tourism is the No. 1 economic driver in Southern Nevada and one of the leading forces in our national economy, so to have a national effort to increase tourism supported by the White House is tremendous,” Ralenkotter said.

Visit California:

“International visitation remains an untapped pot of gold when people cannot get here,” said Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California and Vice-Chair of Brand USA. “With an abundance of visitor experiences and a brand loved worldwide, California has a tremendous opportunity to benefit from efforts to improve the entry process for foreign visitors and remain the number one tourist destination in the United States.”

North Carolina Department of Commerce:

“Today’s announcement marks a turning point for our industry and provides us with unparalleled opportunity to work toward a national travel and tourism strategy,” said Lynn Minges, Assistant Secretary of Tourism, Marketing and Global Branding in the N. C. Department of Commerce. Minges said. “These efforts to make it easier for international visitors to get here will have a positive impact on North Carolina’s economy because their spending supports jobs and adds to tax revenues in the state.”

The addition of Charlotte Douglas (CLT) to the Global Entry program, created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, makes the airport more inviting to international travelers. The airport, which ranks seventh in the world in takeoffs and landings, has nonstop direct service from more than 30 international cities.

About Brittani

Brittani Wood is a Senior Account Executive and Digital and Social Media Manager for Tourism. Since joining DCI in 2008, she has worked with destinations from Finger Lakes Wine Country to New Mexico to Tasmania, creating traditional and digital communications campaigns that increase awareness of travel destinations among media and consumers.

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