The Rebound: Billy Nungesser talks tourism

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Posted at 6:20 PM, May 27, 2021

With the veil of the pandemic lifting slowly but surely, Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser wants to inject new life into our tourism industry. He says Acadiana could play a big role in the success that's yet to come.

“Getting back open is only part of the way there,” says a rather blunt Nungesser. “If these restaurants shops and attractions aren't making money, they won't last. We can’t afford to have any events that don’t make money, and we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and do everything physically possible to support them.”

What that means, says Nungesser, is that state and local governments, plus businesses and residents, need to support one another… need to help groups like Lafayette's Acadian Village that have--over the past 14 months or so--- seen event after event utterly derailed.

"It derailed lots of plans,” recalls Acadiana Village Operations Manager Simone Doucet. “We had probably 30 field trips cancelled because of school closures, and you name it: crawfish boils, weddings, the Village itself shut down, and LARC shut down so our clients couldn't come.”

But there's good news for Simone Doucet and her facility. Activity and bookings she says are slowly on the rise. “Yes, we actually have three different tour companies that have trips planned in October and November, so that's a blessing as well."

Acadiana, believes Nungesser, is sort an ace-in-hole for tourism, thanks to a relationship with our neighbor to the north. “Canada is our largest international market,” he says, “and a few years ago we started marketing direct trips from Canada to the Lafayette region. We’ve seen busloads of people come down.”

But Nungesser adds---what will really speed up the return of tourists to our state--- is the invaluable, immeasurable quality of its people.

“We treat strangers like family, we invite strangers to our backyard for crawfish and you leave Louisiana with a friend for life.”

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