GOV. BLANCO, LT. GOV. LANDRIEU, SEN. LANDRIEU, SEN. VITTER & LRA ANNOUNCE $28.5 M FOR TOURISM RECOVERY -- 09/19/2006
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2006
GOV. BLANCO, LT. GOV. LANDRIEU, SEN. LANDRIEU, SEN. VITTER & LRA ANNOUNCE $28.5 M FOR TOURISM RECOVERY
Baton Rouge, LA - Today, a coalition of statewide leaders announced a major milestone for the tourism industry - the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's approval of $28.5 million for the Tourism Recovery Program. Governor Kathleen Blanco, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority worked in unison to score this victory for the economic recovery of Louisiana. This morning, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget approved budget authority for the Tourism Recovery Program.
"Louisiana has long enjoyed the economic impact of a successful tourism industry, and we are on track to see this industry thrive once again," said Gov. Blanco. "These much needed marketing dollars will help reposition Louisiana as a top tourist destination and let the world know that we are 'back in business.'"
On September 12 and 13, Lt. Governor Landrieu and Angele Davis, Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, traveled to Washington, DC to lobby lawmakers on behalf of the tourism industry. Lt. Governor Landrieu said, "Louisiana's Congressional Delegation worked tirelessly to cut red tape in Washington and move the Tourism Marketing Program through the process."
In a letter to Lt. Governor Landrieu (see attached) signed jointly by Senators Landrieu and Vitter, the Senators wrote, "Tourism, as the state's second largest industry, provides essential revenue for state and local coffers in addition to providing thousands of tourism-related jobs for Louisiana residents. Louisiana's Congressional Delegation has worked diligently to secure these recovery dollars - rebuilding Louisiana's tourism industry is critical to our economic recovery."
The Tourism Marketing Program is funded by federal Community Development Block Grant dollars and is part of the economic recovery plan developed by Governor Blanco and the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Once it was approved by the LRA Board of Directors, the program was submitted for approval to the Louisiana Legislature and HUD.
"This is great news for the thousands of Louisiana residents in the entertainment, hospitality and travel industries who shape Louisiana's cultural identity every day," LRA Board member and Economic and Workforce Development Task Force chair Matt Stuller said. "Beyond the direct economic impact to Louisiana's tourist destinations, tourism dollars also fuel countless small businesses throughout South Louisiana that cater to visitors and supply the tourism industry."
Funds will be distributed to local tourism entities in the thirteen parishes severely impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A list of recipients is attached. The tourism industry will speak with one voice, building targeted marketing based on the state's "Come Fall in Love with Louisiana All over Again" campaign, which features celebrities like Wynton Marsalis, John Goodman, Patricia Clarkson, Emeril Lagasse and George Rodrique. To view the ad campaign, log onto www.crt.state.la.us.
Lt. Governor Landrieu added, "We are ready to receive these funds. Time will not be wasted getting these dollars into the hands of local tourism entities."
The $28.5 million for tourism marketing is important because negative images of Louisiana portrayed by the media in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita have resulted in a significant loss of interest in tourism, dramatically decreasing the number of tourism-related jobs. A recent study by Louisiana State University's Department of Economics showed that in 2004 there were 9,153 businesses in the travel and tourism industry alone. Post-storm figures showed that 1,409 travel and hospitality businesses had shut down after the storms, resulting in the loss of approximately 33,000 jobs.
"Significant loss of tourists means that the thousands of small businesses that make up the character of south Louisiana are at serious risk of closing very soon," said Angele Davis, Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (DCRT). "Statistics show that advertising expenditures are tied to job growth."
A comparison of advertising expenditures to job growth in the tourism industry over the period from 1994 to 2005 has shown a highly significant, positive relationship. Based on a recent regression analysis done for that period, using Louisiana Department of Labor data and historical advertising expenditures of DCRT, research models indicate that this positive correlation will continue.
The national tourism leaders who helped with the New York City rebound effort post-9/11 identified marketing as the key to rebuilding credibility with their customer base and alleviating fears about visiting the city.
The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism recently completed an impact study that showed that Louisiana is losing ground because the State is not adequately countering negative images about New Orleans and Louisiana on local and national media.
Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Lt. Gov. Landrieu brought together national and state leaders to develop a strategic plan - Louisiana Rebirth: Restoring the Soul of America - to guide the recovery of tourism and cultural industries. Speaking with one voice, the industries are hitting the marks established in this plan. To view the most recent scorecard that tracks metrics of tourism recovery, log onto: http://www.crt.state.la.us/LouisianaRebirth/Plan/200609RebirthScorecardUpdate.pdf.
As part of the Louisiana Rebirth plan, an accountability panel was established to ensure that federal dollars delivered results and were not wasted on political abuse or misuse.
Senators Landrieu and Vitter wrote, "We applaud these efforts to provide our tourism industry with a roadmap and to put in safeguards to ensure that Federal recovery dollars are spent wisely."
Prior to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tourism industry made a $9.9 billion economic impact, accounted for 126,000 jobs and contributed $600 million in state and local tax revenues each year.
Please see attached letter
September 18, 2006
The Honorable Mitch Landrieu
Dear Lieutenant Governor Landrieu,
We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved $28.5 million to fund the Louisiana Tourism Marketing Program. Tourism, as the state's second largest industry, provides essential revenue for state and local coffers in addition to providing thousands of tourism-related jobs for Louisiana residents. Prior to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tourism industry had a $9.9 billion economic impact in the state, employed 126,000 Louisiana workers, and generated $600 million in state and local taxes. When Louisiana loses visitors, these thousands of tourism-related jobs, as well as our small businesses, are in jeopardy. Louisiana's Congressional Delegation has worked diligently to secure these recovery dollars - rebuilding Louisiana's tourism industry is critical to our economic recovery.
As we marked the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last month, and now mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Rita this month, it is important to show the world that Louisiana is indeed "back to business." We are aware that immediately following Hurricane Katrina, you established a strategic plan, Louisiana Rebirth: Restoring the Soul of America, to guide the recovery of Louisiana's tourism and cultural industries. As part of this plan, an accountability panel was established to ensure that recovery dollars deliver results, and that no recovery dollars are wasted on political misuse or abuse. We applaud these efforts to provide our tourism industry with a roadmap and to put in safeguards to ensure that Federal recovery dollars are spent wisely.
We look forward to continuing our work together to rebuild Louisiana's tourism industry following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
With warmest regards, we are
Mary L. Landrieu