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Editorial: Louisiana tourism keeps people coming back

Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 5:48 PM

Here on the final day of National Tourism Week, it’s appropriate that Louisiana residents weigh and celebrate the industry’s impact on the state’s economy.

A report prepared by the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center underscores how vital tourism is to Louisiana.

Among the report’s findings, tourism in 2012 in Louisiana accounted for:

26.3 million visitors, more than six times the population of the state. The total topped the previous record visitor count of 26.2 million in 2003.

$10.7 billion in travel and tourism spending.

20 million hotel rooms sold.

$665 million in tax revenue for state and local coffers, a 26-to-1 return on investment of state funding.

1 out of 10 jobs that depends on travel and tourism; travel and tourism ranks sixth in the state’s employment sector.

The New Orleans area accounted for 9 million visitors, the highest total since 2003. The rest of the state welcomed 17.3 million visitors, the most since 2004.

The report also predicts that by 2016, visitors and their spending will increase to 28 million and $11.7 billion, respectively.

Here in our corner of state, the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Tourist Bureau estimates that visitors spent nearly $360 million in Calcasieu Parish last year.

Using multiplier factors employed by economic development experts, that meant more than a $2.5 billion impact on our parish’s economy.

The bureau’s role in promoting this area can be quantified as well. It reached more than 640,000 people through its websites, affiliated websites, print ads and visiting information, booked more than 87,000 room nights and generated more than 190,000 requests for information from its advertising and public relations efforts.

The bureau is oftentimes the first contact for visitors to our area, providing information and tips and answering inquiries long before these tourists leave home.

Whether it’s the culture, cuisine, music, recreational facilities, hunting and fishing opportunities, hospitality or abundant scenic byways, the bureau’s staff has plenty to brag about.

The majority of area residents were born and have been raised in Southwest Louisiana. For others, the Imperial Calcasieu area is their adopted place of residence.

Regardless, most in this area have the ability to move elsewhere. But they elect to reside here because of the many aforementioned amenities that makes SWLA unique.

To both native or adopted sons and daughters, our area is one of the most beloved words in the English language: home.

We should all be proud of it, and like the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Tourist Bureau, we should be passionate and relentless ambassadors for our area.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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