Nungesser Cites Upcoming Plans to Increase Tourism in Northeast Louisiana
Louisiana’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown, but Discover Monroe-West Monroe CEO and President Alana Cooper and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser see the light at the end of the tunnel.
On Friday, Nungesser was the guest speaker at the Discover Monroe-West Monroe tourism industry lunch at Bayou Pointe on the University of Louisiana Monroe campus.
During the lunch, several individuals and groups were recognized for their contributions to the local tourism industry.
“During this difficult year for the tourism industry, this event was an opportunity to honor those who have shown strong leadership and set an example for others. We are pleased to honor these award winners and recognize their dedication and effort to the Monroe-West Monroe tourism industry, ”Cooper said in a press release.
In Ouachita parish alone, outside visitors contributed $ 198.32 million to the local economy in 2019, according to a report from the University of New Orleans Hospital Research Center to be released later this week. year.
Tourism generated $ 71.15 million in direct revenue for the parish, according to the report.
Last year has been tough, Cooper said, but the Easter tornado, two hurricanes and an ice storm showed how restaurants and hospitality workers in the area are rallying to support the community with meals and a shelter.
Already, she says, there are signs of improvement.
So far this year, hotel occupancy rates have increased by over 11% compared to 2020 and revenue per available room is up 8% in the first three months of the year .
Nungesser is certain that Louisiana’s tourism industry can bounce back from the COVID-19 shutdown and once again attract a record number of events, hotel and restaurant attractions across the state.
Nungesser highlighted the Sunshine Plan, a four-step process to keep tourism dollars in the state that was launched last year. It’s about encouraging Louisiana residents to take stays, attracting more state visitors within driving distance, getting more US residents to visit Louisiana and finally, once safe. , to encourage more international tourism.
He said his office has ties to travel agents around the world and has done things like lighting up the Superdome in red and white for Canada Day. Movements, he says, work.
In northern Louisiana, Viking River Cruises agreed to transport people on Mississippi cruises by bus from Natchez to visit the Poverty Point World Heritage Site in Epps.
Nungesser touted upcoming investments in the ancient cultural site and nearby parks to make it a top-notch attraction.
A key part of his plan, he said, is to encourage public and private partnerships that spur investment, such as horseback riding, private cabins and ziplines that have been implemented at other sites. .
Discover Monroe-West Monroe has presented awards to individuals and organizations that help generate tourism and economic impact in the parish.
The winners are:
- Association Meeting Planner Award: Troy Gulotta with the National Junior Limousin & Congress Jr. Show
- Sporting Events Organizer of the Year: Frank Griffin and Joey Odom with the United State Specialty Sports Association
- Louisiana State Games Prizes: Dr Raj Bhandari and Mark Thompson with Warhawk Open Racquetball Tournament
- Sport Volunteer Service Award: Twin City Marathon Planning Committee
- Hotel Service Award: Keltric Williams with Home2 Suites
- Reception service award: Doran Smith with the parish restaurant
- Attraction Partner Award: Melissa Saye with the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum
- Restaurant partner: Cory Bahr with Parish Restaurant and Standard Coffee Co.
- Holiday Spirit Award: Ben and Amy Hanson with Candy Cane Lane
- Julia Trichell Award: Sammy Gordy