President's View

This year’s legislative session produced mixed results for the travel industry. In spite of some disappointments, though, LTA has gained muscle and effectiveness because of your grassroots outreach and our industry’s determination to support each other across the board.

Our hotel definition bill, which sought to capture occupancy tax from short-term rentals statewide, unfortunately did not make it across the finish line. Although HB 339 garnered zero opposition from short-term rental proponents, we reached an impasse with the business community during the final week of the session. Concerns over workforce housing, specifically “man camps,” unfortunately did not yield an amendment that would work for both sides.
Thank you all for your efforts in support of this bill. Although we have not landed where expected, this process has motivated us as we preserve the best interests of our industry. We will continue to work for a solution that moves the travel industry forward in a future year. Despite the outcome, we owe a great deal of gratitude to Rep. Stephen Dwight, who authored this bill on our behalf. Rep Dwight, thank you for shepherding us through this process, fighting a difficult battle of misinformation and serving as a true champion of the tourism industry!

Other tourism-related issues that were tackled during this session included:
  • State regulations for Uber/Lyft
  • Transportation infrastructure funding
  • New Orleans tourism funding 
  • Occupancy tax measures for River Parishes, Iberia and St. Bernard
  • Historic building tax credits 
  • Seafood labeling

The results of each of these measures (and more) are outlined in our Legislative Session Recap. Be sure to note the 32 advocacy sponsors listed. Their support made our 2019 efforts at the Capitol possible!

Of course, our advocacy efforts are never over! We will always have wins and losses at the Capitol, but we endure no matter what. In fact, 2019 presents us with new opportunity to build relationships with elected leaders. As 40 percent of the legislative seats turn over in the upcoming election season, there has never been a better time to contribute to TravelPac.

Thank you for joining us as we advocate on behalf of our revenue-producing, job-creating industry!

Jill Kidder
LTA Takes Travel Message to the Hill 
The Louisiana Travel Association has partnered with US Travel and STS for more than 10 years to take our key travel industry message(s) to DC. This year’s STS Congressional Summit was a true success with ninety-three people from the southeast region attending meetings with their congressional leaders, from June 11-13. Your Louisiana delegates included: Donna O’Daniels, with St. Tammany Parish TCC; Buddy Boe, with New Orleans Plantation Country; Rebecca Blankenbaker, with Cane River National Heritage Area; Stacy Brown, with Shreveport-Bossier CTB; Jonathan “JT” Taylor, with Livingston Parish Tourism; Timothy Bush, with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou; and Jill Kidder, with Louisiana Travel Association. We want to specifically thank Jonathan “JT” Taylor and Timothy Bush for taking the lead as our State Congressional Summit Co-Chairs. 

Issues that we discussed with our Congressional members included:
  • Boost international travel to the US and Louisiana by maintaining Brand USA and the funding framework through 2027 (Congressional Delegation requested to sign on to the attached Welch-Bilirakis-Titus letter)
  • Address the National Park Service and public lands deferred maintenance backlog (Restore Our Parks Act S. 500 / Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act H.R. 1225)
  • Support the Explore America’s Act (S. 1746 / Co-authored by Senator Bill Cassidy)
  • Strengthen the American Battlefield Protection Program (Preserving America’s Battlefields Act S. 225 / H.R. 307)
  • Modernization and support for our National Heritage Area Program (H.R. 1049, with “categorical exceptions”)
  • Establish strong investments in our transportation infrastructure
  • Support for our craft beverage partners (Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act S. 362 / H.R. 175)
  • Join the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus co-chaired by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

For more information on these talking points, click here .
In a recent letter to the members, US Travel Association’s President/CEO, Roger Dow, shared the importance of taking our messages to the policymakers. He states, “Fresh data—whether up or down—is an opportunity to extend our continual dialogue with officials in Washington.”

Mr. Dow’s points concerning the importance of renewing Brand USA were based on the following facts:
  • Travel is an export industry and helps with our balance of trade.
  • Although, US International inbound travel grew 2018 over 2017, the US overall market share continues a slow downward slide. The US is losing share to other countries.
  • Brand USA is key and must be renewed/properly funded to continue to support a balance of trade and a growth economy.

Click here to read Roger Dow's letter in its entirety.