More than ten members of Louisiana’s tourism industry received Louey Awards for their tremendous contributions to the state’s tourism industry during the Lt. Governor’s Annual Tourism Summit hosted by Louisiana Travel Promotion Association, LTPA, the Office of Tourism and the Lake Charles/Southwest LA Convention and Visitors Bureau Jan. 22 – 24, at L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles.
“Louey awards are presented to tourism professionals who go to great lengths to enhance the state’s $10.1 billion tourism industry that employs one out of every eleven Louisiana citizens,” said Darienne Mobley, Co-Executive Director, LTPA. “These are also the same industry members who have tourism’s best interest in mind and are those we can depend on to advocate on the industry’s behalf.”
Members of the industry from across the state were recognized for their outstanding achievements in the following areas:
Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Year, budget of $250,000 - $749,999 was awarded to Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau. The past year was a busy one for the bureau’s staff; they overcame a major crisis and also found time to partner with several organizations in and outside of St. Mary Parish to help with multiple events that brought visitors to the area. They also organized a festival in honor of the Tarzan movie filmed in Morgan City back in 1917.
Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Year, budget of $750,000 and above, went to Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB for the impressive homecoming celebration they hosted for American Idol finalist and local talent Josh Ledet. Although Ledet didn’t win the competition, his “hometown heroes” segment that aired on the reality show was touted the best yet by Entertainment Weekly. Even more impressive than that was the fact that the bureau and its staff only had two weeks to organize the festivities.
Tourism Campaign of the Year was another award for the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB. This time around, the bureau staff was recognized for the awareness campaign they implemented during National Tourism Week. In recognition of the bureau’s forty years of operation, the campaign showcased how the bureau has strengthened the community over the years and included several events to raise the public’s awareness of tourism. Over the course of the week, the bureau saw a forty-eight percent increase in visitation.
Festival of the Year went to Mayfest hosted every year by the Vernon Parish Tourism and Recreation Commission. More than thirty years ago, this festival started out as a one-day sidewalk art show and has evolved into one of the largest festivals between Many and Lake Charles. The two-day event features arts, crafts, food, entertainment, a 5k fun run/walk known as the Armadillo Stampede that benefits the Association of the United States Army, and a pancake breakfast benefitting the Louisiana Lion’s Camp for Crippled Children.
Accommodation of the Year was awarded to Le Village Guesthouse known by some visitors as the largest jewel in the crown of Eunice. This restored village features two guest cottages, a private three bedroom home and a country store perfect for everything from family reunions to weddings. Once a month, Market Monday is held on the property and allows local crafters to display and sell their work. In addition, every Halloween the grounds are transformed into “Spooky Village” and provide old-fashioned fun for children and families.
Attraction of the Year was for Sci-port Louisiana Science Center in Shreveport, home to more than 290 hands-on science exhibits, Louisiana’s only IMAX Dome Theatre, and interactive laser Space Dome Planetarium. More than two million people from across the United States visit this center to explore the worlds of science, space, technology and math through school and public workshops, and summer camps to name a few.
Campground/RV Park of the Year was awarded to A+ Motel and RV Park in Sulphur for providing a wonderful experience for their visitors. They provide guests with maps and brochures for the Creole Nature Trail and other local attractions. They also offer advice on everything from the top fishing spots to the best local cuisine. Sometimes they even host cookouts for their customers. Amenities on the property cover everything from entertainment for children to pet accommodations.
Restaurateur of the Year went to Drago’s Seafood Restaurant of New Orleans and Metairie. To most people, this restaurant is famous for their delectable charbroiled oysters; but this family-owned establishment is also known for its community involvement. After Katrina, they provided free meals to more than 80,000 people and have been instrumental in helping the seafood industry recover after the Gulf Oil Spill.
Governmental Friend of Tourism was presented to Speaker Pro-Tempore Walter Leger of District 91 in Orleans Parish and Senator Robert Adley of District 36, representing Bienville, Bossier, Claiborne and Webster parishes for their leadership in advocating for tourism during the 2012 legislative session. These awards were presented during the Lt. Governor’s opening breakfast on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
Victor Profis Memorial Travel Media Louey is given in honor of Victor Profis. He became a friend of Louisiana’s tourism industry through his work with Southern Living magazine. This year’s Louey was given to Jay Salyers, Vice President of MILES, for his enthusiasm and commitment to working with and marketing Louisiana’s tourism industry. For several years now, Jay and his team have worked closely with the Office of Tourism to brand and promote the state.
Will Mangham Lifetime Achievement Louey was awarded to Monte Hurley, Chairman of the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road for his countless years of promoting Southwest Louisiana and also for his dedication to protecting and showcasing the unique wetlands and wildlife of the area. His efforts have resulted in more than $4.5 million in federal grant funding for twenty-nine projects that market the natural and cultural treasure known as Louisiana’s Outback. He has also been instrumental in the development of the National Hurricane Museum that will be located in Lake Charles. Research suggests the museum will generate an additional 180,000 to 200,000 visitors a year.