Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, right, speaks to New Orleans jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield Wednesday during the second day of the Lieutenant Governor’s Tourism Summit at L'Auberge Casino Resort. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 7:23 PM
New Orleans jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield serenaded an audience of tourism representatives with the song “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?” on Wednesday at L’Auberge Casino Resort.
Mayfield’s performance was an example of the type of talent and culture that Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said should be promoted in Louisiana, the United States and around the world.
State tourism officials have designated 2013 as the year of music in Louisiana. In an effort to spread that message, Dardenne’s administration is funding a marketing plan to promote jazz music, along with Cajun and zydeco.
“Music is one of our main passions as a people,” Dardenne said.
The musician and the song were highlights of the second day of the Lieutenant Governor’s Tourism Summit.
Dardenne said efforts to continue building Louisiana’s brand — through music, for example — have been made difficult due to state budget cuts that directly affect marketing and promotion programs.
Louisiana’s tourism and promotions efforts are funded by a 0.03 percent sales tax. Last year, that tax generated $23 million, which is supposed to be dedicated to tourism and promotions for the state. But not all of it was used for that purpose.
Instead, the Jindal administration decided to use $12 million to pay the state’s contribution to the Super Bowl, which will be played in New Orleans; the NCAA Women’s Final Four; and operating expenses for the new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Nachitoches.
Dardenne spoke highly of those events and the hall of fame, but argued that the state should not funnel money away from the arm of the government “that makes Louisiana money.”
“We are an industry and a business. Money has to be spent to get the message out,” Dardenne said.
In 2011, 25.5 people visited Louisiana and spent $10.1 billion. State tourism officials estimate that one out of 11 jobs depends on tourism. Also, 2 million people visited the state’s parks, some of which could be closed due to cuts to maintenance.
Marketing and promotions reportedly played a part in drawing 500,000 international visitors to the state in 2011.
Aside from discussing the budget issues, Dardenne said Calcasieu and Cameron parishes are important areas in tourism officials’ efforts to promote the state.
“People visit New Orleans, but we want them to use our easily accessible roads to visit other parts of the state,” he said. “In Calcasieu and Cameron parishes you have the outdoors, Creole Nature Trail, and casino businesses, which are important to the industry.”