Northwest Nebraska Tourism Industry Thriving

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The tourism industry continues to be strong in Northwest Nebraska, posting its second largest year for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Tourism promotion is funded through a lodging tax levied on hotel, motel, campground and other overnight accommodations. In FY22-23, Dawes County collected just over $242,000. The collections put the fiscal year at the second largest on record, behind FY21-22, which saw collections of more than $262,000. Sioux County added collections of $4,200, down about $300 from the previous fiscal year.

“The slight dip in revenues was likely due to higher gas prices and a decrease in the availability of some out-of-state hunting permits,” said Kerri Rempp, director of Discover Northwest Nebraska. “Regardless, visits to the region remain strong, and tourism continues to have a substantial economic impact, supporting more than 260 jobs.”

In 2021, tourism contributed more than $30 million in economic impact across the two-county region. Economic impact data for 2022 is not yet available, but should represent a similar contribution to the area, Rempp said. Of the 79 counties that collect lodging taxes in Nebraska, Dawes County remains in the top 20 for collections and is one of four in that cohort with declining populations according to the latest Census.

“Northwest Nebraska has the opportunity to capitalize on tourism to support our rural communities and provide a path to growth,” Rempp said.

Both Dawes and Sioux counties also have established grant programs, providing funding assistance for tourism promotion and improvements. Dawes County approved just under $96,000 in grants during the most recent fiscal year, while Sioux County granted almost $2,000.

“Northwest Nebraska defies people’s expectations of the state, and if we are successful in bringing them here once, they typically want to return,” Rempp said. “We continue to look for ways to expand our reach to introduce new audiences to the hidden gem that is Northwest Nebraska.”

The full annual report for Discover Northwest Nebraska’s 2022-23 fiscal year can be viewed at https://discovernwnebraska.com/dawes-country-travel-board/.