August 10, 2017

Lt. Gov. holds rural tourism talks in Gray 

By Dan Boudreaux Staff Writer
Posted Aug 9, 2017 at 6:40 PM
Updated Aug 9, 2017 at 6:40 PM

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and over 50 members of the regional tourism and business industries today discussed how to get tourists to visit the less-populated communities in the state.

“This is a great opportunity to have this forum to figure out how we can bring people to the rural areas of Louisiana, and it fits right in to our ambassador program, our ‘Staycation’ program, our fishing tours and our marketing strategy of ‘The Great Outdoors of Louisiana,’ ” Nungesser said during his Rural Tourism Roundtable at the Houma Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in Gray.

The lieutenant governor said he wanted to hear from the people involved in tourism from Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes on how they might tackle the goal.

Some of the major themes that were consistently emphasized were a need for more promotion, particularly in the northern United States and Canada, and more signs to promote tourism along the state’s highways and in its airports.“I think one of the most important things is proper signage,” said Kellie Walters with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. “Highway 90 is ripe for the picking with tourists going from Lafayette to New Orleans, and they have no idea there are such great things right off of the highway.”

Another major idea that was floated was promoting more cooperation and education between the various facets of Louisiana’s tourism industry and Nungesser’s office. Things like social media training, better coordination between tourism sites in the area to promote each other and either a Facebook page or web forum for tourism were supported by many in attendance.

“I feel like if we can promote each other, if there was a website where anyone in the tourism industry could register and use a forum to talk and coordinate and help each other, I think that would really help everyone and make things easier,” said Nicole Chiasson from Southdown Plantation in Houma.

Other ideas like ecotourism to get people interested in helping the state’s vanishing coastline and promoting the culture of local Native American groups like the United Houma Nation were also proposed.

Nungesser and his staff took copious notes and said they would take these notes along with those from other roundtable meetings across Louisiana and work to make them a part of the state’s overall tourism goals.

He also announced a few things that his office had created to help rural tourism since he took office last year.

Nungesser said he had created positions at the Louisiana Office of Tourism to help with bus tours to get people out of the big cities and into smaller communities. He said another position had been created to try to attract conventions and events to rural communities.

“I feel the passion and the love everyone in this room has for our state and the tourism industry. We just have to decide how to fix it and get it right,” Nungesser said. “We’ll be looking for some new and unique ideas and this isn’t the end. We’ll be back and we’ll continue to follow up until we get it right.”

–Staff Writer Dan Boudreaux can be reached at 857-2204 or Follow him on Twitter @dan_boudreaux.