With the summer tourism season off to a late start due to COVID-19, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley is doing his part to encourage Nebraskans to explore their state this year.
Foley stopped Tuesday morning at Pop Corner in Westfield Shopping Center, one of North Platte’s three participating stops in the 2020 Nebraska Passport program.
He planned to visit the others — Prairie Friends and Flowers, 320 W. Fourth St., and Double Dips Ice Creamery, 522 N. Dewey St. — as he wrapped up a two-day trip that included Passport stops in Kearney and Gothenburg.
“It’s a tough year. Last year was tough with the (statewide) flooding, and this year (is) with the pandemic,” Foley said.
“We’re trying to send the message that you might not take as long a vacation this year, but there are plenty of things close by in our home state. They’re safe, they’re fascinating, and you’ll learn a lot about your home state.”
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Seventy locations across Nebraska are offering the Passport program’s physical or smartphone stamps in this year’s 11th annual edition. Details may be found at nebraskapassport.com.
In-state and out-of-state visitors alike can collect stamps through Oct. 31, either on their own schedule or by following one of 10 themed trips offered by Nebraska Tourism. Completed passports may be entered for end-of-season prizes.
Foley said he plans several short trips for the second straight summer to call attention to Passport participants across the state.
The lieutenant governor visited three Passport stops in Kearney Monday and began Tuesday with a visit to the Pony Express Station Museum in Gothenburg.
“I did this last year and hit about 25 sites, and I got my stamps, but then I lost my book,” he said. “Now I’ve got this,” holding up his smartphone loaded with the Nebraska Passport app.
The Telegraph June 10 debuted its second annual “Road Trip” summer series in the paper’s Connect section, featuring current and past Passport participants in different parts of west central Nebraska.
Last week’s initial segment featured Custer and Blaine counties, and Part 2 of the six-part series June 24 will highlight sites from Arthur south to Ogallala and Imperial.