Lt. Gov. Nungesser: The Hardest Working Man In Tour-Business
In less than one month Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser led a tourism delegation to China, promoted agri-tourism in Iowa, rolled out eight new educational videos highlighting the state’s cultural programs in Baton Rouge and launched a new tourism media campaign in Lake Charles.
“According to the most recent National Travel and Tourism Office statistics, the United States welcomed nearly three million visitors from China in 2016 – a 15 percent increase over 2015,” said Nungesser. “China is the fifth-largest international market in terms of visitation to the United States and represents the number one market for spending totaling $33 billion dollars.”
Those numbers were yǒushēngyǒusè (Chinese for impressive) enough to prompt Nungesser, officials from the Louisiana Office of Tourism and local convention and visitor bureau executives to visit China during the Labor Day holiday to meet with Chinese officials and tour operators to promote tourism in Louisiana in hopes of bringing the state a little fú (Chinese for good fortune).
“As China becomes one of the larger markets of tourists to the U.S., we thought a trip to their country would pay dividends in terms of tourists and revenue for our state,” said Nungesser. “I am proud of our team for their hard work and dedication to this sales mission, and I believe our mission will be seen as a personal invitation by Chinese tourists to visit Louisiana.”
The Louisiana delegation spent 10 days traveling to Beijing and Shanghai and visited the 12th annual China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in Hangzhou, hosted by Brand USA and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China.
Nungesser was the highest U.S. ranking elected official to attend the summit where he and his globetrotting cohorts extolled Louisiana’s destinations and experiences, including the new “Lights. Camera. Louisiana.” film trail and met with Chinese tour operating agencies.
“According to our data, the Chinese are traveling to the United States due in large part to films and TV series and make up one of the five largest emerging tourist markets in the world for film tourism along with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa,” said Nungesser.
Closer to home, Nungesser and LA Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain met with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in Des Moines at the end of August to plant the seeds for agri-tourism projects and how they can best be promoted in Louisiana.
“Louisiana’s economy is very agriculture-based and goes back generations to the colonial days,” said Nungesser. “Agri-tourism is a major part of the tourism industry and helps to create sustainable attractions that bring in additional revenue to the state coffers that will further help our mission in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.”
Nungesser and Strain attended the Farm Progress Show and met with other lieutenant governors from around the country to hear their ideas.
Local tourism reps said agri-tourism has many benefits including increased revenue, new visitor bases to parks and historic sites and fewer state government man-hours and maintenance while creating new educational attractions and increasing the number of school trips.
An example can be found at the Rosedown Plantation State Historic Sites near St. Francisville. The Cooperative Endeavor Agreement allows farmers to tend to the property, create a corn maze, pick-it-yourself pumpkins and strawberries areas, vegetable farms and produce stands as well as other activities for the public. This agreement saves time, money and labor for the Office of State Parks that no longer has to maintain this section of land, and the deal creates new visitor attractions and revenue streams.
On Aug. 30, Nungesser debuted eight new educational videos at the Louisiana Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge to encourage people to learn more about Louisiana’s Office of Cultural Development and its programs and services.
“The videos were created to tell a story about Louisiana’s cultural assets and the programs and services that are working to cultivate them,” said Nungesser. “I’m excited to premiere these new educational videos to our cultural partners who have worked with us and Louisiana Public Broadcasting in order to showcase these impactful programs and services.
The short three- to four-minute videos were produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and showcase the state’s archeological sites, its public artworks and its economic and cultural programs revitalizing communities serving as catalysts for tourism.
Also in August, Nungesser unveiled a new digital and media advertising campaign at the Annual Travel Summit in Lake Charles that promotes the state’s new brand “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul.”
“The new ad campaign we are unveiling to attract more visitors to Louisiana is inspired by just some of the experiences that can only be done in Louisiana,” said Nungesser. “I was thrilled to present these new commercials to all of our tourism partners at the Annual Travel Summit in Lake Charles. This ad campaign is the result of months of data research and marketing strategy. I am confident our new advertising strategy and Feed Your Soul branding will continue to grow our record-breaking tourism numbers.”
While at the two-day Travel Summit, presented by the Louisiana Travel Association and held at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles resort, Nungesser recognized the 2018 Champions of Tourism including Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux; Ruston Mayor Ronnie Walker, his council and all elected officials; Sterlington Mayor Vern Breland, his council and all elected officials; The Sterlington Sports Complex; the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association; the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police; The Bar Pilots Association and the Crescent River Port Pilots Association; The Ranch Film Studios; Keep Louisiana Beautiful; The Hotel Bentley; Pat’s of Henderson and the Huval family; and Steamboat Bill’s.
“This annual event is the pinnacle of collaboration and exchanging of ideas between our office and all of our hardworking tourism partners that market and promote all things Louisiana,” said Nungesser. “This is a very exciting time for me as our state’s tourism industry gets to network and share ideas amongst the who’s who in Louisiana tourism – an industry that brought in 47.1 million tourists and $17.5 billion into our state last year.”