Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was the guest speaker at the Ascension Republican Women's monthly luncheon held on June 15 at the Clarion Inn in Gonzales. Before the presentation began, Nungesser, along with a representative from Congressman Garrett Graves' office, expressed their sentiments for Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, who was wounded in a shooting early last week in Virginia.
The Lt. Governor spoke in detail about what his role is, aiding in recreation, tourism, the state library system and the arts programs. In regards to tourism, he said the goal is to draw more tourist to Louisiana to see what the state has to offer. Under his leadership, Dick Clark Productions started a New Year's Rockin' Eve segment in New Orleans last year as part of a three year contract with the state.
"What a great opportunity to highlight New Orleans and Louisiana," he said. "We couldn't afford to pay for that kind of exposure. This is the kind of partnership we are looking to do to really open the doors to the world to Louisiana."
Last year the state saw another record breaking year for tourism, with 46.7 million visitors and winning six national awards such as Best Southern Tourism Office and Best Website. However, the biggest accomplishment, he said, was breaking a billion dollars in taxes brought from tourist
"That is actually $601 that each tax payer in Louisiana didn't have to pay that comes out of tourism. That is a 40 to one return on investment and employs over 230,000 people in the tourism industry. It is a great opportunity for growth, its a clean business and its helping small communities that are allowing tourism all over the state."
Nungesser noted that a significant growth opportunity for communities other than New Orleans is the international market. With flights directly from Frankfurt and London now, tourist can stay longer and travel to see the rest of Louisiana.
Some things the state has done in the past year to highlight Louisiana is:
partner with Zatarain's to pardon a crawfish, much like the turkey pardon hosted by the White House,
create the Uniquely Louisiana initiative that focuses on Louisiana culture in teacher's lesson plans,
created a private/ public partnership to make state parks more profitable by adding activities such as zip lines, canoe rentals and horse trail rides
passed a bill, though is waiting for the governors signature, to create a Culture, Recreation and Tourism Foundation that will use assets in state park systems to make money
Nungesser encouraged everyone to sign up to become a #OnlyLouisiana ambassador, where they can become a Bayou Krewe member and share their passion for Louisiana culture, food and great outdoors using the #OnlyLouisiana hashtag on social media. He also discussed how Louisiana is home to seven world-class bass fishing lakes, including the number one bass lake in the country for the past two years.