Office of Tourism Update
February 22, 2017
Countdown to Mardi Gras Day!

Six days! That’s right! Just six days until Mardi Gras day across Louisiana and the carnival season is getting into full swing. Mardi Gras is the biggest celebration for the state of Louisiana, happening in cities and communities in every corner. And, while some to our east will argue that Mardi Gras celebrations in North America began in their city, it’s a good time to point toward some history.

On March 2, 1699, an expedition to claim the Louisiane territory for France entered the mouth of the Mississippi River, led by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. They set up camp on a point in the river about 60 miles downriver from what is present-day New Orleans on March 3, 1699, or what was Mardi Gras Day. In honor of the holiday, they named the area Point du Mardi Gras or “Mardi Gras Point” and called the nearby tributary “Bayou Mardi Gras.” This celebration of Mardi Gras and naming in what would become the state of Louisiana pre-dates the first organized celebration in 1703 in Mobile by 4 years. However, it’s also important to note the first Mardi Gras parade known to have happened in New Orleans was not until 1837.

So as you gear up for those parades throughout the next week, use the following links to start planning which ones you want to attend:

And, if you find yourself in New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year, you can stay informed this Mardi Gras season by texting MARDIGRAS17 to 888777 from a mobile device to receive real-time safety, traffic, weather and event notifications from the City of New Orleans. This will include information on parade routes, weather updates, first aid tents, public transportation options, and – in the case of emergencies – critical public safety alerts. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

First Challenge for the #OnlyLouisiana
Ambassador Program - Mardi Gras!
If you haven’t signed up to be part of the #OnlyLouisiana Ambassador Program, there’s no better time that right now. Once you do, you can participate in our very first photo challenge as a member of the Bayou Krewe! Whether you are heading to Shreveport, Lake Charles or anywhere in-between snap, tag and share your pics with #OnlyLouisiana and #MardiGras2017 for a chance to be featured on LouisianaTravel.com or in the next newsletter. We’re looking forward to the bright parade lights and the crazy chicken chasing!

So make sure you become a member of the Krewe and encourage your family and friends to join us for the fun as well to help promote Louisiana to the world! Already more than 2,500 pictures have been shared via social media by our first set of Ambassadors. There’s always room for more, so sign up today at www.louisianatravel.com/ambassador
State of the Travel Industry 2017; Three Emerging Travel Trends
Travel is an essential economic contributor, providing jobs for millions of Americans. 2017 offers promising opportunities to strengthen the industry and advance priorities, though the community must stay united to face challenges. In the following  video, U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow offers insight into the current climate and future outlook of the travel industry.

And from the death of the big brand, to going virtual, and a new kind of customer, there are emerging trends in travel. For a look at these trends for 2017, read this article in the Huffington Post by Cliff Johnson.
Carnival Season isn't the only season getting underway in Louisiana. It's Strawberry Season!

It’s the most berry exciting time of the year! Strawberry season has begun a little earlier than per usual, starting a month sooner in February. The season typically begins mid-March and runs through May 1, and the near perfect farming weather is credited for this year’s extra juicy, sweet and red strawberries. A combination of a warm winter, cooler nights and a light rainfall are the keys to raising Ponchatoula’s finest delicacy. And what better way to celebrate a successful season than by buying local? Remember to always pick up a bed of strawberries from your local Farmer’s Markets as well as at the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival happening April 7-9. Come experience the wonders of Ponchatoula, carnival rides, live entertainment and of course let your taste buds sample the many different ways you can cook a strawberry. For a great recipe to make a Pontchatoula Strawberry Pie, click here. You can also get recipes to cook some of your Louisiana favorites or find new ones.

Louisiana Destination Crack More Top Ten Lists
Lafayette Ranks as a Top Ten Bang for Less Buck: Best Value American Destinations 2017

Trivago recently highlighted some smaller, homegrown destinations offering great hotel prices, a history of satisfied travelers, and a host of family-friendly things to do. And, when looking at areas to visit in America that are worth every penny, they decided Lafayette would rank #6! To see the entire list, click here . Each destination tells you the best hotels in each area, the best places to indulge in signature cuisine and exactly what to see and do. 
New Orleans Ranked No. 2 Among America’s Most Charming Cities by Travel + Leisure  

O n Feb. 1 New Orleans, along with other top cities in the U.S., was named one of the Most Charming Cities in America by well-renowned travel magazine, Travel + Leisure. New Orleans takes pride in this honor because magazine subscribers selected the Big Easy based off of its ability to captivate and delight travelers, friendly atmosphere and colorful culture. To view the full list of Travel + Leisure’s Most Charming Cities in America, please click here .
Houmas House Voted Among the South's Most Charming Inns

Southern Living released the South’s top 20 Most Charming Inns, and Louisiana is excited to announce that Houmas House Plantation and Gardens was one of the inns recognized for its southern hospitality. Originally built in 1828, Houmas House welcomes overnight guests to lodge in six period-inspired buildings, tour the main house, stroll 38 acres of vibrant gardens and 200 yards of oak trees and sample a seven to nine course tasting menu at Latil’s Landing Restaurant. 

Upcoming Meetings & Events
  • Feb. 28: Mardi Gras Day
  • March 1: DMAI Spirit of Hospitality Celebration, Wash., D.C.
  • March 8-12: ITB, Berlin, Germany
  • March 12-15: Travel South USA Domestic Showcase, Branson, MO
  • March 20-22: DMAI CEO Summit, Knoxville, TN
  • March 24: LTPA Board Meeting, Baton Rouge, LA
  • March 27-29: Southeast Tourism Society Spring Symposium, Knoxville, TN
  • March 28-29: U.S. Travel Association Destination Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
  • April 4-6: World Travel Market - Latin America, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • April 13: LACVB Meeting, Baton Rouge, LA
  • May 8-12: National Tourism Week
  • June 3-7: 2017 IPW, Washington, DC
If you have comments or suggestions for future issues of Louisiana Travel Pulse, contact Barry Landry at blandry@crt.la.gov.