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Tom Clyde: Visit Nebraska

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.

Whenever I get to thinking that it can’t get any more weird, it gets more weird. But this time, I think we have jumped the shark. Time Magazine has named Park City one of the “World’s Greatest Places of 2022” in a listing of 50 “extraordinary destinations to explore.” That’s absolutely remarkable.  First off, Time Magazine still exists? But more importantly, listing Park City among 50 greatest destinations around the world, including the likes of the Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef, and several wildlife preserves in Africa, seems a bit of a stretch. We’re not chopped liver, but Park City among the top 50 places in the world? I don’t think so.

The list is a bit odd. It’s eclectic, for sure, but including places like Miami and Detroit raises some questions about the methodology. In a sidebar, Time said the list was compiled after they “solicited nominations of places from our international networks of correspondents and contributors, with an eye toward those offering new and exciting experiences.”  So a roller coaster in the United Arab Emirates led the list. Park City came in second against that, with the Galapagos Islands next up. Other U.S. destinations were Detroit, Miami, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon.  The international space station also made the list, not that any of us will ever get there. The list skews towards luxury hotels.

So as one of the world’s greatest places, what did Time focus on that floated Park City to the top of the list? The description of Park City starts out, “‘If you build it, they will come’ seems to be Park City’s mantra.” That, of course, is the problem, not the solution. But other than rampant growth, what did Time find so appealing?  Well, there’s Sundance. And Kimball Art Center. “The town’s aspirations to be a creative hub beyond Sundance are evidenced in the new arts-and-culture district.” We’re still looking for the evidence.



Hate to break anybody’s bubble, but if somebody traveled halfway around the world to visit our arts-and-culture district, I think the experience might be a little less than expected. But I’ve got to give credit to the City for reaping the benefits of all that art and culture without actually doing anything other than scraping off a half dozen successful businesses to create the weed covered vacant lot. Who knows what other imaginary attractions we could market? Visit the penguin sanctuary at Richardson Flat, and the great pyramids in Peoa.

Time also looked at the full range of summer activities, a few luxury hotel properties and high end restaurants, giving the impression that their correspondent nominating Park City was all about high-thread-count sheets and eating, and may not have ventured outside the hotel. Almost in passing, they mentioned the skiing.  Park City, Time reports, is “now growing into a major winter and summer destination on par with Aspen.”



In other travel news, I recently came across an ad from the Nebraska state travel office. It had a very nice picture of a prairie sunset, and a headline that said, “We’d install mountains, but they’d just block the view.” The official slogan of the Nebraska travel office is “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” I have to admit that I have never vacationed in Nebraska, though I have had great vacations in both North and South Dakota.  I’ve driven across I-80 through Nebraska, and even at 80 miles an hour, there seems to be more of Nebraska than really necessary. But with a marketing slogan like that, my interest is piqued and I may have to spend some time there. The most appealing aspect of Nebraska is that it is not on par with Aspen. And doesn’t want to be. There was a time when we didn’t want to be on par with Aspen, either.

It’s hard to know what impact the Time ranking will have on local tourism. Among the remaining Time subscribers, if they are in the area, the listing would probably encourage at least a stop-over. Maybe it will have a larger impact, and people who can’t get a flight to the Galapagos, or find the International Space Station is booked, will choose Park City instead. Or, we might encourage them to visit Nebraska. It’s not like we need any more traffic. They could visit the world’s largest pair of bib overalls in Grand Island, or the landlocked lighthouse in Gretna. There are a lot of historical sites there. Their website pictures a happy group floating down a river in a livestock watering trough. I have to admit that looks like fun. Most of our rivers around here flow too fast for that. This year they are too shallow. Out in the flatlands, floating in a stock tank looks like a good time. Omaha has a real arts and culture district, too, unlike some other places we know. 

We should do our part and encourage people to visit Nebraska instead. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.

Opinion

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