It’s National Travel and Tourism Week and Kearney, along with other communities across the country celebrate how travel matters to American jobs, economic growth and personal well-being. This year’s theme, “Travel Matters,” highlights the innumerable ways in which travel makes up our community culture and economy.
Tourism is Nebraska’s 3rd largest industry and supports over 36,000 jobs and generate $3 billion in annual spending. Buffalo County is the 4th largest convention location behind Omaha, Lincoln & Sarpy County. Kearney’s diversification depends on our vibrant and healthy tourism industry. Tourism in Buffalo County supports over 1,600 jobs creating $115 million in annual tourism spending for Buffalo County.
“Tourism is seen every week in Kearney by way of people traveling here for sports tournaments, special events, conventions or to just visit,” stated Roger Jasnoch, Director of the Kearney Visitors Bureau. Kearney is fortunate to be the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World, hosting 600,000 Sandhill Cranes each year during their migration and to be located on Interstate 80, one of the busiest interstates in America.
Kearney is home to 1,800 hotel rooms and nearly 300,000 square feet of convention and event space. We are excited to welcome construction of a new Holiday Inn with over 100,000 square feet of attached convention space. The convention business is the cornerstone of Kearney’s hospitality industry. In addition, the sports market has exploded in recent years. This is a result of venues like, the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, UNK and area high schools increasing our ability to host larger and more frequent events.
Buffalo County has over a dozen attractions ranging from historical, cultural and family friendly, thanks to places such as Fort Kearny State Historical Park & Recreation Area, Museum of Nebraska Art, The Archway, Kearney Area Children’s Museum and the Classic Car Collection. In addition, Kearney has numerous sport and event venues; in fact, sporting events is one of the fastest growing markets in Kearney. Kearney “IS” the epic center for travel and tourism in Central Nebraska.
The first full week of May is annually recognized as National Travel and Tourism Week, a tradition first celebrated in 1984. It was established as National Tourism Week when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution in 1983 designating the week to be celebrated in May. In a White House ceremony, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week. Localized events are presented in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel.