With Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, summer travel season is heating up, and that's great news for Nebraska and Nebraskans.
A detailed report Sunday highlighted the strange year that was -- shaped by COVID and quarantines, masks and measures of the directed health kind -- and what the summer of 2021 might bring. And another piece of the coverage highlighted destinations next door and nearby for Nebraskans ready to get away.
The package of stories left two strong impressions.
The first is the growth and opportunity presented by tourism for businesses across the state. Big-city attractions -- zoos, museums, performing arts venues, fine dining -- are top of mind for many. But the speed bump that 2020 was on our road to tourism growth helped us see the promise of tourism in some of the smallest and most remote communities in the state.
Getting away from it all -- literally -- became an imperative as folks sought open spaces and social distance. Nebraska has an almost limitless supply.
Clever marketing helps, but Nebraska has the goods to back it up when it comes to tourism destinations. And as entrepreneurs learn, adapt and grow, the state will benefit from the added economic diversity.
The first impression is about tourism -- the business and its impact. The second is about travel -- on its most personal level.
COVID kept many folks close to home. As the masks come off and the DHMs expire, Nebraskans have the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the beauty and fun of Midwest living. Even if you don't leave town, you can explore Lincoln with the eye of tourist after a year of staying home.
And if you hop in the car and invest a few hours or a few days, you can see and do some amazing things within or not too far outside our state's borders.
If you need a nudge, remember that it's a way to make a small investment in our state. Each tourism dollar spent generates $2.70 in economic impact to mention the benefit of hotel-motel taxes provide in revenue for local governments.
But the benefits go beyond they financial. A day trip, an extended weekend or a longer excursion pays dividends not just in cash but in smiles and memories.