Dardenne: Louisiana saw a record 26.3 million visitors in 2012, though tourism budget issues loom
Posted on 8/27/2013 10:24:00 AM.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says Louisiana set a record for tourism in 2012 with 26.3 million people visiting and spending almost $11 billion dollars. He says that means $665 million dollars in tax revenue was generated for the citizens of our state.

"That's $665 million dollars that you don't have to pay, I don't have to pay, our constituents don't have to pay because people coming to Louisiana are leaving behind that much money," said Dardenne.

Dardenne says tourism yields a 17 to 1 return on investment and is one of the few areas of government that makes a profit. However he says millions of dollars are taken out of a $23 million dollar budget dedicated to out of state marketing and instead "passed through" and spent on in-state tourism events like Bayou Country Superfest.

"If our office receives simply exactly what the law provides, you would never hear a single complaint from us about the level of funding to promote Louisiana," Dardenne said. "Just think of the additional markets that we could enter if we had the entirety of the $23 million a year."

Dardenne says if they had the money that is, by law, supposed to go to promoting Louisiana, the resources would be there to better compete with big tourism states like Texas and Florida.
He addressed the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Tuesday and reminded members that grants from BP in the wake of the spill will be gone soon.

"It's all got to be spent by April of next year. It was a one time grant and we have managed it accordingly," says Dardenne. "Much of the support we've been able to provide festivals, the CVBs, state attractions is not going to be there."
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