Visiting Lake Charles: Area’s popularity is a $35M boost for economy

Published 8:02 am Friday, April 12, 2024

Meetings can be productive. In 2023, Visit Lake Charles hosted 173 of them in Calcasieu Parish, generating an estimated economic impact of over $35 million to the region, and that’s just the meetings, trade shows, team building get togethers, wedding receptions, conventions, conferences hosted and tracked by Visit Lake Charles.

Calcasieu Parish is home to 60-plus hotels, each with their own economic impact success stories, according to Taylor Beard Stanley, Visit Lake Charles.

Visit Lake Charles shared the news on Global Meetings Industry Day from a small, comfortable, out-of-the-way meeting space at the Golden Nugget. The large conference area and most of the meeting rooms were booked, a sign of a recovering industry after the impact of COVID and the hurricanes. In-person meetings matter, Stanley said, and Visit Lake Charles is tailoring its incentives to put meeting planners at ease. Golden Nugget represents just one of the many Visit Lake Charles partners in showcasing and attracting visitors to the area.

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The $35 million is an estimate that includes what visitors are spending to eat at local restaurants, shop at retail locations and enjoy local attractions.

“These visitors might eat lunch at a downtown restaurant, and then head to Sulphur to shop at Flock of Five,” Stanley said.

Kizzy Frank-Burns, Golden Nugget, talked about how she was able to add a fishing charter as a team-building experience for a past conference, just one of the many examples of how the casino and Visit Lake Charles partner with local businesses to cater to guests. “We take every opportunity to let people know about the hidden gems we have here in Southwest Louisiana, the culture, the music,” Frank-Burns said.

Several recent events hosted in Lake Charles emphasize the significance of in-person meetings and conferences on the economy. For instance, the Louisiana Association for Public Community & Adult Education and the Louisiana Association of Self-Insured Employers held their conferences in Southwest Louisiana  in 2023, collectively contributing over $372,000 in direct economic impact and supporting 118 jobs.

\More in-person meetings mean more jobs. According to available data from the Louisiana Workforce Commission covering the first three quarters of 2023, the hospitality industry in Calcasieu Parish employed an average of 13,366 individuals. Notably, this figure reflects a consistent increase quarter by quarter, indicating positive growth trends, according to Visit Lake Charles.