KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — Officials in central Nebraska are worried that next spring's sandhill crane viewing season will be disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic just like this year's was and hurt the area's economy.
The annual migration of sandhill cranes across central Nebraska normally draws thousands of visitors to the area who want to see the birds gather along the Platte River in the midst of their annual migration.
Kearney Visitor Bureau Executive Director Roger Jasnoch told the Kearney Hub that there is little demand for the hotel rooms in the area that visitors normally fill. And the conferences, weddings and other events that help generate business for hotels and event centers have also disappeared.
Jasnoch said the area is “still losing events as far out as next June. The first quarter (of 2021 business) has evaporated.”
The pandemic has already taken a toll on tourism in the area. Jasnoch said that revenue from lodging and occupation taxes is down 30% from July 1 to December, reflecting the drop in demand.
Before the pandemic began, the 2019 crane viewing season was disrupted by significant flooding in the area, so next year could be the third year in a row of problems during the crane migration.