LTCC begins planning for tourism boost

Tuesday, June 15
June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 17
June 17, 2010
Tuesday, June 15
June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 17
June 17, 2010

With temperatures peaking in the mid-90s as Louisiana summer months go into full swing, the dark economic blow of slouching tourism due to the oil spill still looms overhead.


“You can’t get a message out that says ‘Come on down,’ when the oil is still coming in,” said Sharon Alford, director of the Houma Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We can’t accept visitors here in Houma because our hotels are full with emergency workers, and our fishing is closed.”


The Days Inn on West Main Street has 50 rooms that are almost always booked on a day-to-day basis with BP workers, a staff member explained, excluding the block of rooms BP already had reserved. It’s the same story for many other hotels all around Houma.

“We really aren’t prepared to have visitors right now, and cancellations are starting within our businesses,” Alford added, referring to the endless stretch of water that is now considered off-limits to fishermen and their charter boats. This halt alone is a potential loss of millions in revenue.


“We have a different challenge, our challenge is long-term,” she added.


Although Terrebonne and other neighboring coastal parishes cannot welcome tourists with open arms and open hotel rooms just yet, Alford remains optimistic for the long-term solution to help combat the economic struggle.

That starts with $5 million Louisiana has allocated for coastal response, out of the $15 million given to the state by BP. The remaining $10 million is expected be split evenly between state response and New Orleans response for advertising of seafood and other events.

Instead of splitting up the $5 million between the seven coastal parishes, the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition was formed to combine forces and give south Louisiana a better advertising presence to entice visitors back to the south.

“If the state took the $5 million and had given a half million here and a half million there, there could be a quarter page in several different magazines, and it really wouldn’t have had an effect,” Alford said.

But with the parishes working together, a two-page ad could be purchased – and the positive use for the $5 million does not stop there.

“Part of our plan is that once we get the green light on fishing again, we can bring television shows and outdoor writers down here,” Alford said, who stresses the importance of advertising so tourists do not have misconception about the state of the oil spill.

“The shows and outdoor writers can help let our national audience know that we are back up and running,” Alford said.