Our state tourism director, Ms. McKillip, was quoted in the Omaha World Herald Jan. 22 concerning the new efforts to "rebrand" Nebraska. The official state slogan was put in place in l963, "Nebraska, where the West begins." Since that time we've been through, "Nebraska, the good life" and Nebraska, Possibilities...endless."
Ms. McKillip made the following statement, “I'm not saying that Western culture is not part of our DNA, but it's certainly not 21st century marketable.”
To be brutally honest, the real problem with the "western" image is that it has never been marketed properly.
People all over the world have a craving to see cowboys in action. Nebraska has a significant cowboy tradition which would be a tremendous draw for the state tourism industry.
Folks, marketing The Old Market and the Haymarket will not pull international tourists to Nebraska -- and very few domestic ones.
To abandon the western image in an attempt to be "21st century" makes no sense to me.
And as a former guest ranch owner and operator I have a good idea about what people want to see. They come for the scenery, the remoteness, the wildlife, the lifestyle and the cowboy.
My wife and I ran a guest ranch for several years and the big draw was always participating in or observing ranch life. That, and cowboy bars, country music, historic cowboy museums are unique -- let's get behind the western image.
Sen. Al Davis represents District 43, including most of north central Nebraska, in the Nebraska Legislature.