State expected to shatter records

Nungesser: Bayou State likely to exceed 50 million visitors

Lake Charles celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week with the Partners in Tourism Awards Luncheon Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, guest speaker, said the state is expected to exceed last year’s record-breaking year by surpassing 50 million visitors in 2019.

“We’re seeing great expansion all over the state,” Nungesser said, noting new ball fields in north Louisiana and 100,000 hotel rooms purchased across the state.

As part of the state’s newest tourism marketing initiative, Nungesser recommended that residents embrace the idea of “stay-cation” when considering their next trip.

“Go see a part of Louisiana you haven’t seen,” he said. “I promise you won’t be disappointed.”

Tourism entities employ more than 10,000 local residents and generates more than $750 million of economic impact in Southwest Louisiana. Nungesser said social media is playing a big role in growth of visitors to the state. From ghosts in DeRidder to historic hardware shops in Nachitoches, Nungesser said, digital platforms allow for additional marketing and promotion for a fraction of the cost.

Tuesday’s luncheon was also a tribute to Shelly Johnson’s lifetime achievement and retirement from the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Tourism Bureau. The 31-year executive director of the CVB was awarded the Tourism Lifetime Service Award and will be inducted into the International Tourism Hall of Fame in July.

Nungesser said Johnson has been an “incredible bridge builder” for tourism between private businesses and other tourism groups across the state.

Other award winners include: Social Media Photo of the Year, Tammilee Tillison; Young Professional Award, Krickett Racca; Media Partner in Tourism, Olivia Vidal; Sports Person of the Year, Jean Evans; Public Service Award, Lake Charles Police Department; Volunteer of the Year Awards, Donnie Martin and Colvin LeDoux; Hospitality Arts Tourism, Sean Ardoin; Lasting Impression Award, Matt Young and Erica McCreedy; Rhea Barnes Travel Industry Award, Denise Fasske; Chairman’s Cup Award, Nora Popillion; Organization of the Year, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury; and Tourism Leadership Award, Mayor Nic Hunter.

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The Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. (Special to the American Press)

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