As the world begins to emerge from the COVID-19 cocoon in which it’s been enveloped for the past few months, the entire travel industry is laser-focused on how to encourage visitors to newly discover or eagerly return to tourism destinations around the country. The team at Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism, the organization responsible for positioning Lafourche Parish as a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized tourism destination, has spent the past few months building a new strategy for attracting visitors and stimulating economic recovery and growth throughout the parish.
On June 1, just as travelers are becoming more comfortable packing their bags and returning to the open roads, the tourism office will unveil its new “Remember Lafourche” marketing campaign. The program – which includes print, digital and social media advertising as well as strategically positioned billboards in such key drive markets as New Orleans, Houston and Biloxi — will build off the parish’s proximity to those markets while also demonstrating the differences that truly set this destination apart.
The campaign comes on the heels of intensive research the tourism office conducted throughout 2019 to determine who its visitors are, where they’re coming from and what draws them to the parish. Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism partnered with Randall Travel Marketing, a research firm based in North Carolina, to conduct visitor surveys several times last year.
All that research demonstrated that leisure travel – people coming to the parish simply to visit, without a tie to business or work – has increased over the past few years. Those visitors are most likely to come from other parts of Louisiana; the neighboring states of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and Texas; and Canada and France. Guests are drawn by the region’s Cajun culture, natural beauty, outdoor adventures, delicious food and friendly locals, all factors that ensure that their first visit is usually followed by return trips.
“The key to our ongoing success as a tourism destination is attracting visitors the first time, because we know there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll be drawn in by Lafourche Parish’s charms and become repeat guests,” said Timothy Bush, President & CEO of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism. “We may not have a big marketing budget, but we have an unlimited quantity of creativity and passion for our destination. We used that to develop this concept of speaking to visitors who either live in or are visiting our drive markets and simply encouraging them to venture a short distance in search of unique, authentic bayou experiences that only we can provide.”
Research conducted by countless organizations within the travel industry since the COVID-19 outbreak indicates that road trips are going to be the preferred type of vacation Americans embark on for the remainder of 2020. Studies also show that travelers will be drawn to smaller towns and rural areas, seeking more space and craving opportunities to get out on the water or experience the outdoors in other ways. Those opportunities combine to make the third and fourth quarters of 2020 the perfect time to position Lafourche Parish as a quick getaway from other places in Louisiana as well as surrounding states.
Revenue generated by visitors – whether they’re eating in restaurants, staying in hotels, visiting a museum, taking a swamp tour, going out for a day of fishing with a charter captain, or simply purchasing gas and groceries – benefits each resident of Lafourche Parish. In 2019, according to the study, tourism generated more than $54 million in economic impact for Lafourche Parish. In addition, data from the Louisiana Office of Tourism shows the tourism industry supported 1,110 jobs in the parish in 2018, the latest year for which data is available. In short, tourism is going to be an essential part of the parish’s economic recovery following COVID-19.
For more information about Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism or to learn about tourism experiences you can have in your own backyard, please visit www.lacajunbayou.com.