Office of Tourism Update
February 7, 2018
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser Unveils
New Brand to Promote Louisiana
With such an incredible bounty of food, music, history and culture, there’s no other state that can feed your soul quite like Louisiana. And that’s exactly the message the state will convey to the world under a new brand unveiled Tuesday, January 23, by Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser at the Louisiana Travel Association’s Annual Meeting in Lafayette.

The Louisiana: Feed Your Soul strategy will target travelers who are in constant pursuit of enjoyment by showing them how easy that is to attain in Louisiana – and how it can be found in so many different forms. The brand’s key takeaway is that Louisiana isn’t just for spectators, but rather active participants who truly want to feed their soul. Those who don’t want to only live in the moment, but BE the moment.

The new Louisiana: Feed Your Soul brand was created after six months of research, testing and analysis led by Miles Partnership, a strategic marketing company focused exclusively on travel and tourism. It replaces the previous brand, Pick Your Passion, which had been used for the past seven years and wasn’t resonating as strongly within the state’s target markets.

“I am thankful for the hard work of Miles Partnership, the marketing firm we tasked with rebranding Louisiana,” Lt. Governor Nungesser said. “They approached the task of creating a new brand like a business, with research driving the entire campaign and leading every strategic decision. Louisiana: Feed Your Soul will be a highly effective call to action, because it appeals to both locals and visitors alike.”

Today’s launch of the new brand is the culmination of six months of rebranding research and analysis. That process began in July 2017 with a Louisiana Image Study conducted by Longwoods International, the world’s foremost travel research company, and led by Longwoods chairman George Zimmerman, the former State Travel Director from Michigan responsible for the successful Pure Michigan campaign. The results of that study showed Louisiana had a strong image across a number of attributes when paired against competitors like Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.

The new brand will be rolled out on Mardi Gras Day in a big way, with branded Louisiana: Feed Your Soul food trucks serving a taste of Louisiana in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Washington, DC. While it may be just another Tuesday in the rest of the country, these Louisiana-wrapped trucks will hand out king cake, beads and cups to promote the new brand while creating unique, memorable and high-profile experiences in these markets.

The trucks and their Louisiana ambassadors will be stationed in high-traffic locations for the lunch rush and happy-hour crowds, and will move around to maximize exposure while in each city. Food truck guests will also be able to register for a chance to win their own trip for two to come feed their soul in Louisiana.

State of the Travel Industry
America's travel industry remains strong and poised for growth in 2018.

“Multiple priority areas have the association's full attention – from connecting and informing our members and partners to serving as the lead advocate for travel in Washington,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel President and CEO. “It's critical that we protect travel and foster its growth on behalf of the 15.3 million American workers whose livelihoods depend on our industry. Together, we will continue to achieve great things.”

In his video message, U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow reflects on last year's successes and challenges and looks forward to key opportunities ahead.

Travis Napper Elected Chairman of Louisiana Travel Association’s Board
Travis Napper, President/CEO of the Ruston Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau was installed as chairman of the Louisiana Travel Association (LTA), formerly Louisiana Travel Promotion Association, Board of Directors at the association’s annual meeting Tuesday in Lafayette, LA.

“It is an honor to be able to serve the membership of LTA that is spread across the state,” says Napper. “This organization works to lead and strengthen the Louisiana tourism and travel industry. Over the past 57 years, this organization has accomplished so much and I look forward to working with my fellow board members to keep travel and tourism a priority in Louisiana.”

New officers installed on the executive board committee include the following: Janice Delerno Verges, with the Stockade Bed & Breakfast, as vice-chairman; Ben Berthelot, with Lafayette CVC, as secretary; Kerry Andersen, with Pinnacle Entertainment, as treasurer; and Mark Romig, with New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, as immediate past chair.

New members on the board of directors are Timothy Bush, with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou; Dustin Gontarski, with Compass Media; Jennifer Ritter Guidry, with Atchafalaya National Heritage Area; and Kevin Kelly, with Houmas House Plantation & Gardens. 
Shelley Johnson Awarded Louisiana Travel Association’s Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award
Shelley Johnson, executive director/CEO of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB (LC/SWLA CVB) was named as the recipient of the prestigious Will Mangham Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award during the Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) Annual Membership Meeting held recently in Lafayette. The award is named after the late Will Mangham, affectionately known as the “father” of Louisiana Tourism Promotion.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given the tremendous opportunity to be part of the vibrant Louisiana tourism industry for a lifetime career. The people that I have met along the way have truly enriched my life beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. It is a privilege to be able to promote our culture, food, music, festivals, the great outdoors and all the attractions. Working with the community of Southwest Louisiana, state tourism partners, regional leaders and beyond, is an experience that I will always treasure,” said Johnson, executive director/CEO of the LC/SWLA CVB.

“Who can be more deserving of this year’s Louisiana Travel Association Lifetime Achievement Award than Shelley Johnson? With her many years of service to the travel industry and Southwest Louisiana, Shelley is the consummate professional, a creative marketer and an inspiring leader. Simply put, no one knows more about tourism than Shelley, and I am proud to call her my friend,” said Jill Kidder, LTA president/CEO.

Johnson has served as the executive director/CEO of the LC/SWLA CVB since 1988. During that time, the LC/SWLA CVB has been well-recognized with accolades such as the CVB of the Year in 2015, 2000 and 1997 by the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) as well as the CVB of the Year by LTA 2012 and 2008. She currently serves on the Louisiana Tourism Development Commission, as appointed by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, having also served 1996-2011 under other administrations. She is a board member of the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition, Louisiana Association of CVBs, the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, secretary/treasurer of the Creole Nature Trail Board of Commissioners, serves on the advisory council for Burton Coliseum, and she is a liaison for the Lake Charles Civic Center Development Corporation and the West Calcasieu Community Center Authority.
Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy Graduates Class of 2017, Introduces Class of 2018
During the Louisiana Travel Association’s Annual Meeting in Lafayette, the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy graduate its class of 2017. The Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy was created to build future tourism leaders, develop their leadership skills, and strengthen their networks to enrich their tourism-related organizations.

Throughout the yearlong academy, class members learned true leadership skills and traits and how to apply these skills to enhance the tourism industry in Louisiana. The innovative program helps class members connect with peers in the industry who are currently leading the way, introduce them to issues and opportunities in such a way that they can envision solutions and give a basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of becoming a leader in the Louisiana tourism industry.
Members of the LTLA class of 2017 include:

  • Alvon Brumfield – Louisiana Renaissance Festival
  • Angie Manning – Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • Barry Landry – Louisiana Office of Tourism
  • Josh McNemar – Office of the Lt. Governor
  • Jessica Ragusa – Office of the Lt. Governor
  • Katherine Johnson – Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission
  • Kaylie LeBlanc – Lafayette CVC
  • Kellie Walters – Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou
  • Kimberly Caldarera – L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles
  • Leslie Landeche – Mardi Gras World
  • Madeline Sanchez – Louisiana Travel Association
  • Marica Mackenroth Brewster – Royal Carriages
  • Megan Gavlick – L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles
  • Rebecca Blankenbaker – Cane River National Heritage Area
  • Shanna Landry – Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • Stella Thornton – Louisiana Tax Free Shopping
  • Timika Spurlock – Sheraton New Orleans
  • Zondra Jones – St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission 
Members of the LTLA class of 2018 include:

  • Magan Adams – Tomahawk Tourism
  • Taylor Beard – Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • Tina Begnaud – City of Breaux Bridge
  • Bryce Benzine – Office of the Lt. Governor
  • Caitlin Billingsley – Kinetix
  • Kaitlynn Broussard – Lafayette CVC
  • Angie Burley – Louisiana Travel Association
  • Kimberly Chauvin – Down the Bayou Shrimp Tours
  • Sam Dangerfield – Alexandria/Pineville Area CVB
  • Mike Davis – Golden Nugget Lake Charles
  • Carrie DeVries – DEVENEY
  • Cesiree Dubroc – Tax Free Shopping
  • Teresa Green – Renaissance Publishing
  • Kaitlyn Grekoff – Monroe-West Monroe CVB
  • Katie Guasco – Hoffman Media
  • Dani Kennedy – Jefferson CVB
  • Amanda Landry – Nottoway Plantation
  • Nancy Landry – Royal Carriages
  • Rosie Lawler – Louisiana Office of Tourism
  • Emily Matise – Tangipahoa Parish CVB
  • Fran McManus – Miles Partnership
  • Rita Perrilloux – Riverlands Christian Center
  • Kristian Sonnier – New Orleans CVB
  • Ramona Tauzin – Red Carpet Destinations
  • Marshall Thompson – Louisiana Office of Tourism
  • Melissa Trahan – Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • Jasmine Tregre – Office of the Lt. Governor
  • Charlie Whinham – Louisiana Office of Tourism
Louisiana Office of Tourism Adds Three Members
to Sales Staff
The Louisiana Office of Tourism is announcing the addition of three members to the sales staff to further build and sustain top-of-mind awareness of Louisiana as a premier travel destination.
Will Bloom joins LOT in Sports and Consumer Sales. Will is a native of New Orleans and graduate of St. Augustine High School and holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Business from the University of Florida. Bloom will research and recruit sporting events and tournaments by marketing existing facilities in Louisiana such as arenas, ball fields and multi-purpose indoor facilities. He will work alongside statewide coalitions (TEAM Louisiana) and Sports Commissions and Associations to develop and promote sporting events and outdoor recreation. Will loves sports, has a passion grilling and enjoys traveling across the state taking culinary tours.
Matthew Cope joins LOT in Group Tour Sales. Matthew grew up in Bossier City and is a graduate of Airline High School and Centenary College with a B.A. in English. Cope will focus on out-of-market promotion and sales to drive more visitors to Louisiana, targeting Group Tours which include seniors, students, faith-based and multi-cultural travelers. He will also work to expand the state’s reach and brand awareness nationwide by implementing a sales program aimed at travel agencies and consumer events. During his spare time Matthew enjoys reading and playing the piano.
Emily Bell joins LOT in our International Sales section. Emily is a native of Luling and is a graduate of Hahnville High School and Southern Mississippi University with a B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management. Bell will be assisting Mike Prejean with LOT’s International Marketing & Sales efforts. Emily loves to travel which has included group trips to Alaska as well as Italy.
Kicking Off Another Year of Promotion in Charlotte, NC
Representatives of 16 Louisiana destinations, attractions, and associations just returned from Charlotte, North Carolina, and the American Bus Association’s Annual Meeting and Marketplace. The event attracts approximately 3,500 tour operators, suppliers and exhibitors to kick off a new year of business opportunity and growth. ABA reports more than 140,000 pre-scheduled appointments take place with 800 pre-qualified operators, offering “a year’s worth of sales meetings in one week.”

Representing Louisiana were Marshall Thompson, Louisiana Office of Tourism; Harolyn Falgoust, Monroe-West Monroe CVB; Erica Telsee, Shreveport Bossier CTB; Tracy Francis, Visit Baton Rouge; Kimmie Carlos, Royal Carriages; Shelly Dupuy, National World War II Museum; Dane Bono, New Orleans Steamboat/Grayline; Joseph Dunn, Laura: Louisiana Creole Plantation; Hal Moser, Houma Area CVB; Abby Trauth, Mardi Gras World/River City Ventures; Tricia Cook, Jefferson Parish CVB; Gina Abernathy, Country Inn and Suites Metairie; Eugénie Mitchell, Lafayette CVC; Timothy Bush, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou; Jessica Byrd, Louisiana Motor Coach; Laine Garner, Louisiana Travel Association.
Monroe to Open Downtown Boutique Hotel
Downtown Monroe will be adding sixty-nine hotel rooms and more than 10,000 square feet of event and meeting room space with the recent announcement of a new boutique hotel. Developers Michael and Christie Echols announced plans to create The Hotel Monroe in the former Poolside Shoppe and Southern Hardware Building. The Poolside Building was originally built in 1891 as the Sugar Brothers Grocery and Opera House. Michael Echols described the hotel to The Monroe News-Star as a next step that will not only draw people from the community but from across the country. Construction on the $15-20 million redevelopment project could begin this summer with an estimated opening in late 2019.
Vinton Welcome Center Construction Update
The new building that will house the Vinton Welcome Center is more than 95 percent complete. Contractors are making small corrections, laying tile in the administrative area, and applying finishes and detail. The interior view shows framing for brochure racks as well as the exhibit area; including restrooms, the center will encompass approximately 13,000 square feet.

The project is being funded by money secured by DOTD from the National Highway Administration. Louisiana Capital Outlay money is funding exhibits and furnishing.
Bringing Amédé Home
The St. Landry Parish Tourism Commission is hosting an event on March 11 to honor Amédé Ardoin, considered by many as the bedrock of today’s Cajun and Creole music. A candlelight vigil and statue unveiling will take place at the Visitor Information Center in Opelousas, beginning at 4 p.m. Ardoin was one of the earliest musicians to record his la la style of Creole music and became what his beloved fiddle partner Dennis McGee called ‘une chanson vivant’ , a living song. For more information contact the St. Landry Tourist Commission at 337-948-8004.
LPB Attakapas Program to Air Nationwide
A recent Louisiana Public Broadcasting documentary on Louisiana history will now be available to national audiences. Attakapas: The Cajun Story is a 60-minute, Suncoast Emmy Award winning program featuring the music of legendary singer-songwriter Zachary Richard and his very personal story of the Cajun people. The show chronicles the plight of the Acadian people during their expulsion by the British from Nova Scotia, their epic journey and eventual arrival to southern Louisiana. This special will be made available to public television stations nationwide through American Public Television (APT). APT is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism is one of the shows underwriters.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

  • February 12: Destinations International Spirit of Hospitality Celebration; Washington, DC
  • February 13: Mardi Gras Day
  • March 5-7: LOT Houston Mission
  • March 7-11: ITB Berlin; Berlin, Germany
  • March 18-20: Travel South Domestic Showcase; Biloxi, MS
  • March 21-22: Destination Capitol Hill; Washington, D.C.
  • April 3-5: World Travel Market Latin America; Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • April 23-26: Destinations International CEO Summit; Bermuda
  • April 23-25: Inaugural Southeast Tourism Society Conference; Myrtle Beach, SC
  • May 6-12: National Travel and Tourism Week
  • May 19-23: 2018 IPW; Denver, CO
Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism - Employment Opportunities
The following positions with the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism are posted on the Civil Service LA Careers website.

  • Architectural Historian 1-2 - Office of Cultural Development
  • Contracts/Grants Reviewer - Office of Management and Finance
  • Budget Analyst 3 - Office of State Parks
  • Parks Program Consultant - Office of State Parks
  • Administrative Assistant 5 - Office of State Museums
  • Curator 3 (Assistant Registrar) - Office of State Museums
  • Administrative Program Specialist C - Office of State Museums
  • Administrative Coordinator 3 - Office of State Museums

For more information, please visit  http://www.crt.state.la.us/employment-opportunities/index
If you have comments or suggestions for future issues of  Louisiana Travel Pulse, contact Barry Landry at blandry@crt.la.gov or Charlie Whinham at cwhinham@crt.la.gov