Louisiana feeds the soul
Rebranding showcases what makes the state authentically unique
(Photo above: At the Toronto event held at Ruth’s Chris Steak House are (l-r) Charlie Whinham, Louisiana Office of Tourism; Christy Chachere Lohmann, Visit Baton Rouge; Megan Ryburn, Louisiana Office of Tourism; Doug Bourgeois, Louisiana Office of Tourism; Jesse Guidry, Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission; Joanne Scalamogna of Access Marketing and Jo Banner, New Orleans Plantation Country.)
Whether it’s a warm bite of gumbo or a wild swamp adventure, the Louisiana Office of Tourism has launched its new Feed Your Soul campaign and branding, which focuses on what makes the state authentic and unique.
“We live for our music, our culture and especially our food,” said Doug Bourgeois, assistant secretary for Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, prior to previewing three new ad spots that target North American travellers to a Toronto audience earlier this month. “There’s a special feeling you get in Louisiana.”
Although the state faced a decline in tourism following Hurricane Katrina in 2005,
during which many residents lost their homes, he said the industry has rebounded.
“It was a tragedy but the historic areas, the things that really represented our culture weren’t damaged,” he told Travel Courier. “I think there was a misconception for a while and that’s ancient history for us.”
With direct airlift on Air Canada, lots of developments underway like the recent announcement that Disney Cruise Line will add a new home port in New Orleans in 2020 and Viking River Cruises will launch two ships in the state in the next three to five years, he hopes Canadian tourism to the state will continue to be strong.
“Canada has always been our No. 1 international
market,” he said, adding the drive market is also important. “Canada always comes in No. 1., and for French Canada, there’s a huge emotional attachment to Louisiana – we were founded by French Canadians.”
As for travel agents, Megan Ryburn, director of sales for the Louisiana Office of Tourism says there are lots of opportunities for FAM trips. Overall, Louisiana saw 47.1 million visitors in 2017.
When in Louisiana
While many visitors head to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, Jesse Guidry, vice president of communications at the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission says the city offers a family-friendly alternative to the event. From dancehall to boudin tours, there is plenty for visitors to do in the city dubbed the Happiest City in America. While the food scene is huge, being in Cajun and Creole Country, he says he’s also focusing on promoting activities in the Pgreat outdoors. One example is the Vermilion Voyage, a three-day overnight paddle down the Bayou Vermilion in March.
According to Jo Banner, communications manager for the New Orleans Plantation Country, once you’ve seen one plantation house, you haven’t seen them all.
“We have 10 plantation homes to explore,” she says. “Each story is different.”
Beyond the tours of former plantation houses, swamp and walking tours, she says the area has been used as a filming location for over 1,000 scenes in movies, TV shows and music videos, including Interview With The Vampire, and multiple Beyoncé videos.
Meanwhile, those who visit the state capital of Baton Rouge can expect a lot more than just politics and football says Christy Chachere Lohmann, communications specialist for Visit Baton Rouge. Although college football is huge with a stadium that holds 102,000 spectators, she says there’s a thriving culinary scene, plenty of music festivals, as well as food and walking tours with lots of distilleries and breweries popping up.
Finally, fans of the King of Rock and Roll may want to head to Shreveport, where the phrase Elvis has left the building was coined.