Community members learn about the Nebraska Passport Program

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. - (KNEP) - Community members came out to hear more about the growing Nebraska Passport Program which is now celebrating its tenth year.

There are 70 locations throughout the state to take in as part of the Nebraska Passport Program (Source KNEP)

Passport Program Coordinator Madison Schlake showcased the unique locations which have been a part of the program along with a few stories from those who have taken part in it.

In 2018, 749 people went to all 70 locations with 50,000 taking part in the program. As of July 10th of this year, the program has seen 26 people take in all 70 locations. The locations are placed into tours which are picked once the locations are chosen.

Typically once a location is chosen, they won’t get re-entered into the application for three to four years. This year has some exceptions with popular destinations coming back for the anniversary.

Last year, the program saw people from 46 different states although Schlake added most of their marketing is towards Nebraskans. She feels the state’s residents are the best ambassadors to tell others what some of the unique and fun places people can go to in the area.

Schlake mentioned this program is also an economic development venture for towns and cities in the state. Overall, the state averages a $2.5 million economic impact with it rising as more people participate in the program each year. According to Schlake, a business could see up to 200% increase in traffic with an average of 300 extra people every month. She also added, 99% of those who participate would recommend the program to others.

A majority of those who partake in the program are categorized in the 35-45 and 50-65 age group with early 20’s and teenagers seeing the lowest number of participants.

This program also helps gather those from the eastern portion of the state to venture to the western and see what it has to offer.

There are prizes for those who head out to 25, 50 and all 70 locations but Schlake added that is just a bonus compared to the fun people will have. The books are available at various locations but the program also has a phone app. The app allows patrons to collect stamps as well as learn more about each location.

People have until September 30th to collect as many stamps as they can. If a business would like to get on the passport program for 2020, the application deadline is September 1st. The selected businesses must have great customer service, provide a unique experience and be open at least one business day and one weekend day.