Aurora fortunate to have three Passport Program participants

Nebraska’s 150th birthday celebration is putting a spotlight on the state’s heritage this year, and so too is a unique program designed to invite folks to see all there is to see in the Cornhusker state, including its hidden gems.
The Nebraska Tourism Commission has rolled out the 2017 Nebraska Passport Program, touting 80 attractions on 10 themed tours from May 1 through Sept. 30. Aurora made the list not once, not twice, but three times, which in and of itself is a feather in our community’s collective cap.
The Edgerton Explorit Center is featured for the second time, this year as part of the “Be a Kid Again” tour. Executive director Mary Molliconi reported that the center had a 33 percent spike in visitors during the five-month Passport program in 2015, so she understandably has high expectations for this year. The Edgerton Center is clearly on a roll, having topped the list last year as the state’s outstanding tourist attraction.
New to the program are Aurora Floral and The Renaissance Fine Art and Photography Studio. Both are part of “A Warm Welcome” tour, featuring unique small-town attractions from across the state. It takes energy, a concerted effort and vision to make the cut for the Passport program, so both of these downtown businesses should feel good about being touted as part of a statewide promotion (http://nebraskapassport).
Tourism is very big business in Nebraska. Believe it or not, visitors spend nearly $5 billion a year in the state, generating almost $700 million in state and local taxes. There is indeed a lot to see and do here, thus plugging many of our unique attractions as part of a broader sesquicentennial celebration is a perfect way to promote tourism while also helping newcomers and guests understand our heritage.
Here in Aurora, the reality is that this program will likely be a benefit to other businesses and organizations as well. While they are in town to get a stamp at one of the three featured stops, guests will be invited to check out the Plainsman Museum next door to the Edgerton and perhaps spend some time on the downtown square and elsewhere in the community. That’s just a little extra icing on the cake.
We offer kudos to Aurora’s Passport trifecta and encourage everyone to log on to the program and check out some of Nebraska’s hidden gems.
Kurt Johnson

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