Immediately following a meeting with tourism industry leaders last Wednesday, legislative leadership added $5 million in relief funding to HB 39 for the Louisiana Office of Tourism and CVB/tourist commission aid to be awarded by the Lt. Governor.
The supplemental appropriations bill was approved by Conference Committee last week and quickly confirmed by both the House and the Senate. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk, awaiting executive approval.
LTA and LACVB, along with the Lt. Governor, have been continuously communicating the needs of the travel industry with our elected officials since the beginning of the pandemic and resulting economic decline.
Louisiana’s CVBs have not received any form of COVID-19 relief funding and are not eligible for CARES Act programs afforded to small business or IRS designated charitable non-profits, most notably the Paycheck Protection Program.
Every business within the travel industry needs relief in these challenging times, but unfortunately, our CVBs who market every facet of the industry and drive visitors into local businesses have been completely left out of both state and federal aid.
In competitive states throughout the Southeast, state legislative bodies have committed one-time allocations of anywhere from $25 million in Tennessee to $13.5 million in Mississippi in relief funding for tourism. This funding will, no doubt, give our neighboring states a competitive edge in attracting leisure, business and group travelers.
While we applaud this first step, LTA and LACVB hope to see additional relief funding for our CVBs and all tourism entities to help us boost Louisiana’s economy by re-engaging conventions, meeting planners, sports groups and leisure travelers who spend money in every corner of Louisiana.
LTA is grateful for Senate President Page Cortez and Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder for their attentiveness to the industry’s needs and willingness to propose this amendment to the Conference Committee. We look forward to a continuing dialog with them about relief for the devastated travel industry.
This significant accomplishment would not have been possible without the leadership of Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. His strength at the Capitol and steadfast devotion to the travel industry have helped to carry our industry through the many challenges of 2020.