National Tourism Week

National Tourism Week will shine a spotlight on the travel and tourism industry the week of May 3 to 11. Grand Island gains so much from tourism activities in ways that you might not imagine. The Grand Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with our many volunteers and partners work every day to grow the tourism economy and identify Grand Island as a destination.

Recently we rolled out a completely new VisitGrandIsland.com website that highlights our people and places in a fresh and inviting new way. With gorgeous photography and stories of local “characters” and events, the site sets out to introduce prospective guests to our city and provide a context as to who we are and what Grand Island is all about. We’ve placed short videos on the site to encourage visitors to explore and provide a way to connect guests to our many unique attractions and activities.

The Grand Island Independent has been a tremendous partner to the Convention and Visitors Bureau over the years, and our cooperative work in producing and distributing the newly redesigned biannual Grand Island Vibe, the official visitor guide, just continues to get better. The move to a more magazine style format with stories that are also featured on the VisitGrandIsland.com website continues to gain favor with guests, attractions and industry alike. Look for your copy in the Independent in the coming weeks and plan to keep it as a guide for being a tourist in your own town.

Another great partner has been the Nebraska State Tourism Commission. Several initiatives have had a direct impact on highlighting attractions and events across the state as well as right here in Grand Island. Geiger and Associates, a public relations firm specializing in travel media tours, was retained each of the last two years to canvas the state and bring nationally known writers from a wide media spectrum to write about Nebraska.

Local offerings certainly have caught the attention of these writers, many of whom had never been to the area, giving them stories that will place our community on a big stage. This year’s tour highlighted wildlife and the sandhill crane migration along with local history, food, art and culture. These efforts will result in Grand Island being featured in magazines, blogs and newspapers across the country including the Houston Chronicle, Smithsonian Magazine and Miami Herald to name a few.

Since it is National Travel and Tourism Week, it is worth pondering how we can support this industry that supports so many great things in our community. The growth of the travel industry is a direct reflection of the health and vitality of our larger economic well-being. To that end, the convention and visitors bureau has partnered with the Grand Island Economic Development Corporation and the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce in undertaking a strategic economic planning process. The process will allow us to identify and evaluate business opportunities allowing us to place our limited resources into areas that will produce the strongest business growth. These efforts will have a direct impact on Grand Island’s tourism sector. For more information on these efforts, go to the GrowGrandIsland.com website.

We’re also pleased to be involved, along with a broad cross section of community leaders, with Mayor Jay Vavricek’s Grander Vision project. The Grander Vision is casting a broad net to encompass the diversity and cultural aspects of Grand Island as we formulate future priorities. This is central to sustained growth in our community and quality of life. Furthermore, we’re pleased to be in front of both the Hall County Board of Supervisors and the Grand Island City Council in the coming week to receive tourism week proclamations.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to think about how you can support and encourage travel — perhaps as an employer, maybe as a leader or volunteer in Grand Island or even just for you and your family. It’s worth our investment, and tourism pays back in ways you might not expect.