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State tourism report: More than 20 million visitors Tell North Platte what you think

The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha and Lake McConaughy near Ogallala were the leading tourism attractions in Nebraska last year, helping the state attract more than 20 million visitors, the Nebraska Tourism Commission said.

Each year the Tourism Commission collects attendance data from destinations throughout the state, including parks, museums and art galleries.

Once again, state parks and the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium proved to be the most popular places. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium had the largest attendance, reaching more than 2 million visitors for the first time -- a 22 percent increase from the zoo's 2015 attendance of 1,679,324.

The zoo’s new African Grasslands exhibit opened last spring. The Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area had 1,366,863 visitors and Branched Oak State Recreation Area in Raymond had 1,290,856 visitors, the commission said.

Five Nebraska destinations had 1 million or more in attendance in 2016.

 “Nebraska is an amazing state to explore and these numbers show that we aren’t the only ones that think so,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism executive director. “More and more people are spending their time and tourism dollars here, and with the sesquicentennial and excitement surrounding the Passport program, it will only grow. This all translates into more jobs and tax revenue for the state's third-largest industry." 

The top 10:

1. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

2. Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area

3. Branched Oak State Recreation Area

4. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

5. CenturyLink Center Omaha

6. Wagon Train State Recreation Area

7. Ponca State Park

8. Fremont State Recreation Area

9. Platte River State Park

10. Pawnee State Recreation Area

To see the full list of Nebraska attraction attendance go to http://visitnebraska.com/media/industry/category/annual-attraction-attendance (Only attractions that reported their numbers to the Nebraska Tourism Commission are listed.)

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/14/2017
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