Natchitoches celebrates National Travel & Tourism Week

5/13/2016

Natchitoches Celebrates National Travel & Tourism Week

The Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a Tourism Rally at 3pm on Wednesday, May 4th at Fort St. Jean Baptiste to promote National Travel & Tourism Week with the Louisiana Office of Tourism. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser was the honored guest and speaker. Nungesser traveled around Louisiana as part of National Travel & Tourism Week to support the industry which brought 28.9 million visitors to Louisiana last year, spending $11.5 billion and generating $843 million in state tax revenue; compared to 28.7 million visitors, $11.2 billion and $836 million in state tax revenues in 2014. Arlene Gould, Executive Director, and the staff from the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with Mayor Lee Posey, Parish President Rick Nowlin and State Park District Manager, Rick Seale, welcomed and discussed the economic impact of tourism in Natchitoches with representatives from the Cane River National Heritage Area, National Park Service, students and faculty from NSU's Department of Hospitality Management and Tourism, NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson and First Lady Tonia Henderson, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum with members of the Chamber of Commerce, local hoteliers, innkeepers and restaurateurs.

Natchitoches welcomed over 10,000 visitors alone in 2015 to the Welcome Center on Front Street, while there were hundreds of thousands more who actually visited the parish. The Hotel Motel Tax Collections were up by 16% over the previous year (2014) from $339,348.66 to $394,383.09 in 2015. A few numbers worth sharing are: Total Hotel Revenues, in 2015, were $13,146,106.00 and the 3% Hotel Occupancy Tax collected was $394,383.09, which is the revenue the CVB operates the Welcome Center and uses for Marketing purposes. Restaurants are one of the major industries related to tourism and in 2015, Jerry McWherter of the Natchitoches Tax Commission reported sales of $107,791,414.00. In 2015, Hotel and Restaurants in Natchitoches Parish had an major economic impact of $120,937,520.00. Keep in mind, Natchitoches is only a city of approximately 18,000 in population. If you were to add the attraction admissions from Melrose Plantation, FSJB, LSHOF and the Alligator Park you can count on a minimum of $386,476.00 for a total economic impact of $121,323,996.00, stated Arlene Gould.

At the conclusion of the program, the CVB and Louisiana Office of Tourism recognized two newly inducted Louisiana Restaurant Legends, Bonita Rowell and Laverne Moore, both of Mariner's Restaurant. Bonita has faithfully greeted and served patrons for 21 years, while Laverne has kept the kitchen hot with her southern dishes for 33 years. These two ladies are definitely a winning combination as customers repeatedly request Bonita's service and return craving Laverne's tasty cuisine. Mariner's owners, Don and Jennifer Nichols and Lyssa Taylor are extremely proud of their employees and consider themselves blessed with such a dedicated staff.

After an exciting Rally, guests enjoyed sweet bites of cake and Mariner's miniature pecan pies while snapping pictures with the Lt. Governor and staff. "It's been a great event and to have Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser here and witness his passion for our State made all our efforts worthwhile. With his contagious personality, you easily see he has a big heart; he's perfect for Louisiana!" - Madeline DeBlieux