Editorial: Convention and Visitor’s Bureau richly deserves recognition

Statewide honors for the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are richly deserved.

The local bureau won the coveted Bureau of the Year award last week at the 2013 Lt. Governor’s Tourism Summit held in Lake

Charles.

SWCVB Executive Director Shelley Johnson, her 18-member staff and the board of directors have amassed an enviable track record

in marketing and promoting our area’s bountiful assets to active and potential visitors.

Johnson credited the bureau’s staff, saying, ‘‘They pour everything into making projects as successful as they can be. I have

an innovative, results-producing staff and it’s great for other people to think so, too.’’

The bureau’s 2012 accomplishments included:

• Reaching more than 640,000 through various marketing vehicles.

• Adding nearly $360 million to the Calcasieu Parish economy through travel expenditures.

• Generating more than 193,000 requests for information on the area.

• Responding to more than 25,000 visitors at the bureau’s Visitor Information Center.

• Reaching more than 64 million people through print media.

The bureau’s handiwork can be found in two current events, the 74th Annual Southwest Louisiana District Livestock Show and

rodeo which begins Thursday and the annual Mardi Gras season that crescendos through the second weekend of February to its

climax on Fat Tuesday.

The bureau also touts the best of what

Southwest Louisiana has to offer, from the Creole Nature Trail

All-American Road to

the area’s more than 75 fairs and festivals, including the

Contraband Days Pirate Festival and the Cajun Music & Food Festival,

the area’s abundant and challenging golf courses and its rich

food, music, hunting and fishing scene.

Its endeavors have paid off in the

renewal of the state High School Rodeo Championships in Lake Charles for

another five years

and major conventions this year, including the Louisiana Registrar

of Voters, the Louisiana Airport Managers, the Southeastern

Outdoor Press Association and the Jehovah Witness.

Not one to rest on the 2012 award, the bureau has set goals for 2013 that include:

• Conducting quarterly sales calls in the Ft. Polk, Baton Rouge and Houston markets.

• Educating local tourism partners on foreign individual travel.

• Reaching out more to the motor coach and senior markets.

• Increasing the duration of spectator stays at events.

• Adding the number of events hosted via the bureau’s services and Warchest Grant program.

• Expanding the African American market in Southwest Louisiana.

Our area is an easy sell with its many treasures, but that doesn’t discount the hard work and professionalism the Southwest

Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau puts in daily to attract thousands to our area.

• • •

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, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.