Nebraska Tourism office on the way to permission to sell T-shirts, other merchandise

Nebraska Tourism office on the way to permission to sell T-shirts, other merchandise

If — let’s just say when — Nebraska state senators and Gov. Pete Ricketts sign off, fans of the state of Nebraska will be able to buy and wear “not-for-everyone” T-shirts, buy and drink from “not-for-everyone” coffee mugs. 

The Legislature advanced a bill (LB637) Thursday introduced by Sen. John Stinner of Scottsbluff on a 40-0 vote that would authorize the Tourism Commission to develop and approve state marketing campaigns, and develop and sell tourism promotional products. 

People aren’t sure why that needed a state law to accomplish, but when it happens — two more rounds of voting and a signature of the governor — the commission would be authorized to contract with private vendors to produce, sell, and distribute the products. 

“We’ve had a lot of requests, I mean, they keep coming in on Facebook all the time: ‘Where can I buy a T-shirt? Where can I get a cup?'” said tourism Executive Director John Ricks. 

When they get the word, they have some T-shirts on hand, that Ricks said would go fast. 

Some sellers, not official ones, are already capitalizing on T-shirt sales, most obviously on Etsy. 

The summer campaign started Monday, and already the daily tourism website traffic has nearly doubled, he said. 

The ability to sell promotional products is a small step, but a good one, he said. 

The campaign includes TV commercials, print, outdoor signs, social media. Those are focused in Denver, Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City, Des Moines, Sioux Falls and Minneapolis/St. Paul. 

From July 1 to January, four of those seven months were record setting for 1 percent lodging tax collections, Ricks said. And the taxes are trending at 5 percent above the record-setting year seven months into the fiscal year. 

“And the campaign just started,” he said.

Photos from the new tourism campaign


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