Places & Faces
On the Tourist’s Map
4/2/2018 9:50:47 PM
SWLA Tours

Many businesses in Southwest Louisiana are flourishing with the ongoing industrial expansion, and tourism is no exception. With new hotels going up in nearly every corner of the region, the experts whose job it is to attract visitors to the region have been seizing every opportunity to share what Southwest Louisiana has to offer. 

Throughout the year, the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) promotes Southwest Louisiana through various means of communication including printed materials, digital communication, and social media. Recently, the CVB has worked strategically to harness the market of the industrial expansion by showcasing all of the fun, exciting, family-friendly activities for people who are temporarily housed in the region for work.

"The workers have been effectively a mouthpiece for promotion of our region throughout the United States and even the world,” said Kyle Edmiston, Chief Operating Officer, CVB. "They are telling their friends and family what Southwest Louisiana has to offer, and they are bringing more visitors here to enjoy our festivals, restaurants, and casinos.” 

The increasing number of new hotels is another sign that tourism is expanding rapidly in Southwest Louisiana. According to Edmiston, there are now more than 7,500 hotel rooms in the region -- all rooms that need to be filled. "That just means we have to work that much harder to share what we have to offer to the travelers,” he said. 

That may not be difficult, according to the latest statistics. In 2017, visitors to Southwest Louisiana had a $650 million economic impact. According to Bureau statistics, 2016 was a record-breaking year for tourism in Louisiana. The state welcomed a record high number of 46.7 million visitors in 2016, representing an increase of 2.57 percent over the 45.1 million visitors reported in 2015. The travel and tourism industry generated $1.04 billion in state tax revenue, an increase of 23.4 percent over the $843 million generated in 2015.

Summers in Southwest Louisiana are the peak time for visitors. People come to enjoy birding, fishing, ecotourism, and fresh seafood. The CVB has worked hard alongside area leaders to establish Southwest Louisiana as the "Youth Sports Capital of Louisiana.” The state girls’ softball and boys’ baseball tournaments meet at Sulphur Parks and Recreation. Those events alone draw more than 30,000 people to Southwest Louisiana.
In addition to sporting events, Southwest Louisiana is well positioned to host business meetings, conferences, and group reunions. "Being halfway between Houston and New Orleans, we have the perfect geographic location and some of the best conference rooms at our brand new, state-of-the-art hotels and facilities,” said Edmiston.

The Bureau works diligently to provide up-to-date calendars with information about upcoming events and activities in Southwest Louisiana. They maintain open lines of communication with hotels, and provide up-to-date brochures about upcoming events at hotels, lodges and gathering spots. In addition, they maintain a free Lake Charles events app that provides information and alerts about current events. "There is an abundance of fun, family-friendly things to do every weekend in Southwest Louisiana,” Edmiston said. "Visitors and local residents alike are welcome to check out our website or download our app to see what’s happening in our area.” 

The CVB will be offering a brand new virtual reality video program beginning sometime this upcoming summer. The virtual reality experience will allow CVB visitors to see the sights and sounds of Southwest Louisiana with a headset. From Southwest Louisiana festivals to the Creole Nature Trail, visitors will experience what it’s like to be a part of Southwest Louisiana.
As National Tourism Week approaches May 5-13, the CVB is gearing up to sponsor a variety of events in the community to help create awareness of tourism’s impact. The Bureau will host events throughout the week and will give away fun prizes to visitors at both locations. 

The CVB has two locations; their main office, 1205 N. Lakeshore Drive, right off Interstate 10, and the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point on Highway 27 in Sulphur. 

For more information, visit the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website, www.visitlakecharles.org.
Posted by: Victoria Hartley-Ellender | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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