AdNation News: Why Jay Dardenne, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, is Optimistic About the State's Tourism

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Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne discusses what's ahead for Louisiana's Tourist Industry.

We have to spread the word to the rest of the nation about what Louisianians and recent visitors already know--that we have the highest quality, freshest, most delicious and most abundant seafood in the world.

Setting New Precedents

As Lieutenant Governor, Dardenne by law oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which includes the Offices of Tourism and Cultural Development, as well as the State Library, Museum System, and Parks.

Dardenne took office as Lieutenant Governor in 2010, and made a substantial change to the structure of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. In the past, "the Lieutenant Governor typically hired a Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the person who would run the department on a daily basis," the Lieutenant Governor explains. "I abolished that position, and I am doing it," Dardenne says. "I felt that that is what the people elected me to do," he adds, noting that he studied advertising and journalism at Louisiana State University before earning his law degree.

Shifting Focus to Music

The 2013 advertising campaign focuses on music, and utilizes the state’s "Pick Your Passion" tourism brand. In 2012, the state’s tourism marketing focused upon Louisiana’s bicentennial as a state, Dardenne says. The PBS program, "Sunshine by the Stars: Celebrating Louisiana Music,” starring Harry Connick Jr., appeared on Louisiana Public Broadcasting in December 2012 and is available to affiliates nationally this year, he adds. This program provides the tourism board with an opportunity to segue its message, so that there is now more of a focus on music, he explains.

Overcoming Challenges

In addition to an economic downturn that has impacted nearly every state, Louisiana suffered from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. Cuisine has long been a draw to Louisiana, and the local cuisine depends upon seafood that is caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Dardenne stresses, "Louisiana seafood has been tested more extensively than any in the nation, and we’ve never had a contaminated result." He explains, "We have to spread the word to the rest of the nation about what Louisianians and recent visitors already know—that we have the highest quality, freshest, most delicious and most abundant seafood in the world."

In spite of these challenges, Louisiana's tourism has experienced a great deal of success. New Orleans' best year for tourism, since Hurricane Katrina, was 2012, and has "gotten a lot of national recognition toward its accomplishments," Dardenne explains. "The same holds true across the state; we are very resilient people, and we still have some work to do," he adds.

How Louisiana Funds its Tourism Marketing

Louisiana funds its tourism office "entirely with a designated revenue stream," Dardenne says, noting that that stream amounts to a very small percentage of the state's sales tax. That revenue stream totals around $23 million, but this amount of money is vulnerable to the state legislature moving it to support other needs in the state. For example, of the $12 million that Louisiana was expected to contribute to the hosting of the recent Super Bowl, $6 million was raised from private funds, and the other $6 million came from the tourism budget.

-Jon Heifetz
Reporter, AdNation News

About Jay Dardenne:
Dardenne is a veteran of Louisiana politics. He represented East Baton Rouge Parish in the State Senate from 1992 to 2006 before winning a special election for Secretary of State in 2006. He was elected to a full term as Secretary of State in 2007, then won a special election in 2010 to replace Mitch Landrieu (who became Mayor of New Orleans) as Lieutenant Governor. In 2011, he was re-elected to a full term as Lieutenant Governor.

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Mary Ann Cavlin
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