LG LANDRIEU, WYNTON MARSALIS TESTIFY BEFORE CONGRESS, STRESS IMPORTANCE OF LOUISIANA CULTURE -- 010/18/2005
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2005
LG LANDRIEU, WYNTON MARSALIS TESTIFY BEFORE CONGRESS, STRESS IMPORTANCE OF LOUISIANA CULTURE
Landrieu and Tourism Leaders Outline Needs of the Tourism Industry
Washington, DC - Today in testimony before the U.S. Congress, Louisiana Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu and Wynton Marsalis - New Orleans native son and jazz legend - spoke on the vision and strategy needed to rebuild Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Landrieu assured Congress that Louisiana has too much at stake to allow a penny of relief funds to be wasted on political abuse and misuse. The strategic plan to rebuild tourism and cultural industries - Louisiana Rebirth: Restoring the Soul of America - demands high performance, accountability, and ethical behavior. Landrieu has requested that Governor Blanco issue an executive order creating an Independent Performance Accountability Panel to work with us as we begin implementing the Louisiana Rebirth plan. Please see attached for Landrieu's letter submitted to members of Congress regarding corruption.
"As Congress considers how to structure the federal recovery effort, we encourage members to consider Louisiana's cultural significance," said Lt. Governor Landrieu. "The unique culture of Louisiana can and will be the engine for our economic and social rebirth. Our food, music, art, and architecture - these things give our state a sense of place. And in Louisiana, these cultural industries mean business, accounting for nearly 144,000 jobs."
Testimony was heard before members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. This is significant because this committee has jurisdiction over FEMA; individual and public disaster assistance programs; and all the major infrastructure projects - including flood control - necessary for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region.
"When Congress is assigning monies, we need to be vigilant and mindful of our cultural strength. We need to include historical and cultural perspectives in the decision-making process of the rebuild of Louisiana," said Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and co-chair of the National Advisory board that will guide the Landrieu Administration's efforts to rebuild tourism and culture. "If we are to be leaders of the New South, we must invest in our culture and our people."
Today on Capitol Hill, Louisiana's tourism industry spoke with one unified voice. After the Committee hearing, Landrieu and representatives of the tourism industry met with members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation about the relief necessary to begin rebuilding the tourism, hospitality and cultural economies in our state. Representatives from the following organizations attended meetings: Travel Industry of America, American Hotel and Lodging Association, National Restaurant Association, and New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Landrieu stated, "We told our story to members of Congress, and we outlined the needs and priorities of the tourism industry as we rebuild. We shared our vision for the tourism and cultural industries, as described in our strategic Louisiana Rebirth plan."
Rebuilding tourism - the state's second largest industry - is critical to the economic recovery of Louisiana. Every day without visitors in New Orleans means a loss of $15.2 million, and everyday without visitors in the Lake Charles region means a loss of $1.5 million.
Landrieu added, "Today, our message to Congress was clear. We are focused and determined to rebuild Louisiana better than it was before."