ALEXANDRIA, La. (CALF) – Lt. gov. Billy Nungesser was the keynote speaker at Rotary on Nov. 22, where he touted the state’s efforts to expand Louisiana’s tourism industry in the wake of the pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges for the state’s tourism industry in recent years has been finding ways to overcome the impact of COVID-19. Not only did the economy take a hit, but Louisiana had to compete with every other state in the nation to attract tourists and restart the economy.
With the support of the Louisiana Legislature, Nungesser’s office has been exploring creative ways to accomplish this.
“All teams across the state are working hard to get us back to record-breaking numbers in tourism, and we also want the entire state to recognize the importance of tourism [to the state]’ Nungesser said. “We treat strangers like family and that’s why they keep coming back. So, this message, everyone in Louisiana is doing their part to help us rebuild our tourism industry.”
Along with the modernization of Louisiana state parks and the development of public-private partnerships like “glamping,” the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Parade have become key events for the state’s tourism industry. These parades draw people back into the state for events like Mardi Gras in every corner of the state.
“We knew we had a big cliff to climb to get to these record-breaking numbers featuring Macy’s Parade, Rose Parade, individual trips across the country and around the world, videos featuring ambassadors like Lauren Daigle and Lainey Wilson, Trombone Shorty and Jon Batiste,” explained Nungesser. “They just get people excited to come here, and every time we do one of these performances, we see how many visitors go to our site to book trips to Louisiana.”
It’s not just parades and natural resources that keep the state’s tourism industry thriving. Nungesser argued that education is essential to moving the economy forward.
For the state legislature and the next governor, Nungesser said they must “stay the course” on education.
“If we don’t stand behind education in this state, we’ll never get off the ground,” Nungesser said.
While Nungesser spent nearly five minutes talking about Louisiana’s next governor having a focus on education, he hasn’t made up his mind to run for the office just yet. He informed Rotary members that he would announce his decision by the beginning of the year.
After Rotary, Nungesser made his way to Leo Street for a tour of Glass Act Recycling, a location in central Louisiana trying to “keep Louisiana beautiful.”
Annie Collins, founder of the Grassroots Recycling Project, started the project in her daughter’s garage. Now that project has moved to a large warehouse where they collect about four tons of donated glassware each month to be recycled.
Nungesser’s visit allowed Collins to share her vision for the project, both now and for the future.
“He has so many more opportunities that are open, places that we wouldn’t normally get to,” Collins said. “But because he has those contacts, and he has more information than I do, and he knows how to connect the dots. It means more than we even know, even know. We have no idea how good that was.”
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