NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) – The Nebraska Tourism Commission informed the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee this month that they intend to seek an increase in spending authority from $7.5 million to $10.5 million during an interim hearing on November 9, 2023.
Lincoln County’s David Fudge has spent eight years on the Nebraska Travel Association’s Board of Directors and included a pair of terms as the president and in his current capacity serves on the group’s legislative committee and was among those in attendance at this month’s hearing. The longtime NEBRASKAland Day’s Executive Director, says the level of funding the commission has is something that has been discussed dating prior to the pandemic.
”And part of the reason we really shifted it into overdrive again is what we learned during the pandemic is we can’t be dependent on a single source of funding and that is what happened so part of the more global discussion is how do you address that?” Fudge said. “One of the things we’ve learned over the course of the past five or six years is people are interested in our state. Website traffic at the tourism commission is consistently up year over year and I think you are seeing some of the fruits of that labor now where we continue to see record lodging tax numbers in our state month after month and specifically I saw last month we set another one here in Lincoln County.”
In short, the Nebraska Tourism Commission regularly generates more funds than the state statute allows them to spend.
”So that was the first thing that we said was give us the ability to take in more of what we spend and then we are looking at a couple of other things such as tying that cap of what we can spend within the commission to what we are generating from lodging tax,” Fudge said. “So in other words as that lodging tax continues to go up as we do more and more work and better work to try to get people here our ability to promote goes up along with it and in the years where lodging taxes are down the Nebraska Tourism Commission would adjust spending accordingly.
In the previously mentioned interim hearing with the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee, Nebraska Tourism Officials stated there is a growing marketplace for Nebraska through conventions and sports, referring to everything from the Henry Doorly Zoo to Lake McConaughy. Fudge said that Nebraska is behind the game in promoting some of the state’s many attractions.
“We’ve done a really poor job of investing resources into developing tourism-related promotion and tourism-related developments and anything that we can do as an industry to help drive that I think is going to be positive and we see that here every year,” Fudge said. “June is a better month for North Platte for a sales tax collection standpoint that Christmas.”
Fudge said that Nebraska needs to up its game with our neighboring states as well.
“We’re way behind the game,” Fudge said. “Our goal is to get us in the ball game so that we can go into markets like Chicago and Oklahoma City and add to the market that we’ve seen success in like Denver and Kansas City and those kind of places and so that we can reach more and more people and tell them about our state and get them into our state and spend money here which helps everyone frankly.”
Learn more about the Nebraska Tourism Commission’s potential request and meeting this month with the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee, here.
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