As areas of Acadiana reopen, one industry here in Louisiana suffered a major blow. Tourism. There are so many wonderful things to see in Iberia Parish.
Officials are ready to welcome back visitors from Acadiana and around the world. From waterways, to the byways, they really have it all.
Iberia Parish is known as the sweetest, saltiest, and spiciest place on Earth. You all know that sugar is the big industry, and the world knows plenty about our famous peppers. All of this surrounding some of the biggest salt domes in the United States. Iberia Parish depends on these industries, but tourism is huge, and the pandemic knocked it back, but not down.
Freddie DeCourt, the Mayor of New Iberia says, "2020 was bad, but it wasn't that bad. And you know, we're moving forward in 2021. Festivals are coming back, we have an art walk in April. Part of it is the attitude on how you approach this. There are hurdles, there are obstacles, but working around them is just another challenge."
Fran Thibodeaux, the Executive Director for the Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau knows that the pandemic isn't over yet and all of the protections are still here. She adds, "Cities like New Iberia, Jeanerette, Loreauville, Delcambre and all of the event planners and attractions are doing their part to make sure our visitors feel safe."
And there's even more things that Iberia Parish is excited for. A new National Trail!
Thobodeaux says, "That's a National Scenic Byway right there, LA 182. And then behind us is the Bayou Teche, which is a National Paddle Trail and Waterway. And it's right in the middle of this National Register Historic District.
The Mayor also saying, with the support of locals, things are looking up. DeCourt adds,"It's looking better! We muddled through 2020 just like everybody else did in Acadiana. But it was productive! We've probably had five or six new businesses open this past year, and that's among COVID. We've been very fortunate!"
There's so much to learn about Iberia Parish. "That means we just have the ultimate story to tell, and our partners do a really good job about telling our story!" says Thibodeaux.
And it's not just Iberia Parish, we all need to act as a team to bring visitors back. DeCourt says, "When we have a unique culture that we have here in Acadiana, like we have here in New Iberia. If we do a good enough job promoting it, if we can unite as a region and promote ourselves as the wonderful people and attractions and the culture that we are...we'll get em!"