Midlands Voices: ‘Heritage tourism’ invaluable to state

NOTE: This op-ed piece appeared in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper Dec. 3rd, and has been posted with the paper’s permission:
By Michael J. Smith

The writer is director/CEO of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Are Nebraska historical sites failing to draw tourists? Recent news coverage has highlighted financial challenges at the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney and at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s historic state parks.

But don’t worry. There is proven economic value in heritage tourism, and Nebraska communities are working hard to draw visitors as a means of boosting economic growth. History is and must remain core to this effort.

“Heritage tourism” is simply the experience of visiting museums and historic sites including downtowns, neighborhoods and rural landscapes that offer preserved architecture and visual connections to the past.