Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

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.

Multi-generational Family Travel Rises

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Multi-generational Family Travel Rises

Tour operator advises how to accommodate so-called ‘3G’ adventures

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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Tour operator Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA –, the active travel company,reports an explosion in multi-generational or “3G” (three generations of same family)  travel.

For the fourth consecutive year, ALA reports mid-double digit growth in 3G trips both in pre-set, small-group and custom departures. Seventy-five percent of its custom exclusives are 3G bookings, mostly requesting national park trips, an ALA specialty.

“Our Yellowstone National Park family adventures are sold out for 2011 and we’re now taking bookings for 2012,” said Dan Austin, founder and owner. He added that family programs to other national parks such as Yosemite, Glacier, Bryce & Zion and Grand Teton still offer good space this season.

ALA’s 3G experience is in line with industry-wide statistics, said Austin, noting that 3G trips have recently been identified as top trends by mainstream travel companies such as Virtuoso and American Express Travel. Austin cites U.S. Travel Association research that notes that 30 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers vacation with children or grandchildren along. TripAdvisor reported this year that 92 percent of families with children surveyed last year planned to travel in 2011, up from 88 percent who did so last year. There’s also more international travel by families (predicted to be up 5% from 2010) because so many of today’s parents are becoming more and more world-travel savvy and operators such as Austin-Lehman are developing family-focused programs abroad.

Austin suggests that 3G families and their travel consultants explore together the various options and ask the following questions of the tour operator “to assure that meeting the complex needs of three generations surpasses all expectations.”

Hotels can take these points in mind when marketing to mutli-generational families or choosing tour providers to work with.


  • Are the accommodations family-friendly (i.e. meeting needs of both adults and kids)?
  • Are there children’s menus and safe places where children can roam when parents are socializing, reading on the porch, or sipping wine by the fire?
  • Is there a place to swim?
  • Does the itinerary allow parents to enjoy their own quiet meal if desired knowing children are being cared for, fed and entertained? (ALA ends its Yellowstone programs at Chico Hot Springs Resort where adults dine by candlelight while their kids have pizza by the pool.)

Pre-set Departures, Group Size and Guides

  • Will the group be big enough to allow interaction between multiple families with kids the same age, yet small enough to allow intimate and personalized attention and service from the staff and guides? (ALA says that a maximum of 18 on a family trip is the preferred number.)
  • Are guest rosters on pre-set family departures arranged insofar as possible with families who have children of similar ages? (Austin said his company does its best to match up three or four like-minded families with children of similar ages on the same departure.)
  • What is the guest to guide ratio? (ALA recommends a maximum of six guests per one guide so that everyone gets individualized attention.)
  • What are the guides’ qualifications? Summer break teachers experienced in working with young children can be the best, says Austin.

Equipment and Transportation

  • What kinds of equipment are used for activities and how is the equipment adapted for 3G use?  For example, Austin’s team offers kid-size mountain bikes and even tag-along kiddy carriers on all trips and new high tech electric bikes on all European trips.
  • What kind of transportation is used from Point A to Point B on a trip?
  • How is luggage stored and moved?
  • Do the guides offer any ongoing dialog and/or fun games to help pass time en route?

Flexibility and Age-Appropriate Activities

  • How flexible is the itinerary if someone wishes to veer from the day’s planned events?
  • Are there age-appropriate activities? Ask if the itinerary is flexible to accommodate, if necessary, individual programs for a range of guests 7 to 70 years old.  Austin cites a Montana trip where guides spontaneously set up an easy half-day horseback ride for grandparents who otherwise would have sat on the porch as younger family members did an intensive hike.

About Austin-Lehman Adventures
Austin-Lehman Adventures, with a 37-year legacy, provides adventure vacations on five continents, has built an international reputation for small group active travel to destinations in North, Central and South America, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Africa. The company specializes in adult and family multi-sport, hiking, biking vacations that emphasize history, culture and nature’s charms.  Trips are limited to 12 guests (18 on family departures) and feature excellent regional dining, distinctive accommodations and all-inclusive rates and services. In addition to scheduled group departures, ALA offers customized trip planning.

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