Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 1:30 PM
Doris Maricle // American Press firstname.lastname@example.org
LACASSINE — Tourism means big business in Louisiana, and Jeff Davis Parish is hoping to cash in on that plan with a new industry and tourist attraction with the soon-to-be opened rum distillery in Lacassine.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and others toured the facility Wednesday as part of a statewide motor coach tour to promote the importance of tourism in the state.
“This is one of the most vibrant industries in the state, and it means jobs and revenue coming into the state from people who don’t live here,” Dardenne said of the tourism industry.
Last year a record 26.3 million people visited Louisiana, spending $10.7 billion and generating $665 million in state tax revenues from outside sources, he said.
In Jennings, 40,000 people from all 50 states and 16 countries visited the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park last year to hold the baby alligators, Mayor Terry Duhon said. Those visitors spent nearly $20 million on food, gas and other purchases, he said.
“Those are real numbers that reflect the industry and boost the economy,” Dardenne said.
Last year, 8,000 jobs were created in the hospitality industry alone, he said.
“It just makes sense that tourism is a great investment for our state,” he said.
“We are such a wonderful, unique place that people want to visit. We just have to continue to get our message out there to tell them all about the great things they can experience when they come to Louisiana.”
Louisiana Spirits will be a significant addition to the state’s assets, attracting motorists traveling along Interstate 10, he said.
“It’s a beautiful and unique facility and to be able to just drive off the interstate and see the (rum making) process, as well as understand about the history of sugar and its importance to Louisiana, will be a great opportunity for people visiting Louisiana and residents,” he said.
The distillery will become a destination for tourists and residents with tours and other events planned at the facility, he said.
The facility is working on test batches of its Bayou Rum and is expected to open soon, said Louisiana Spirits President Trey Litel.
“It is an inspiration to do this for the people of Louisiana and to be able to use all Louisiana materials, including raw sugar from the cane fields of Louisiana to make our product,” he said.