Tourism

Houma and Thibodaux among first certified as retirement communities in state

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Houma and Thibodaux are two of the first cities in Louisiana to be officially designated as retirement communities by the state tourism commission.

The designations were awarded this week at the annual Lt. Governor’s Travel Summit in Lake Charles.

“Through a competitive and selective application process, these communities, including Thibodaux, will now receive state-level marketing support, networking opportunities and possible grant funding to help us grow our brand moving forward,” Thibodaux officials said Thursday.

Other cities now included in the program are Lafayette, Lake Charles, Natchitoches, Ruston and Lincoln Parish, Toledo Bend and Sabine Parish, and Shreveport-Bossier City.

Each was chosen under a competitive application process through the Encore Louisiana Commission, which reviewed applications for several months. It eventually selected the eight cities and parishes “that are now certified and focused on bringing retirees to enjoy their ‘encore’ at life,” the website states.

Under the new program, each retirement community has detailed retirement information on the state tourism website, LouisianaTravel.com.

Houma-Terrebonne was selected for its small town charm and easy access to city living in New Orleans. The area’s many outdoor activities, festivals, music and food are all boasted by the state.

“This specific designation was a great opportunity for both Houma Travel and (Terrebonne Economic Development Authority) to work together on a project that has an effect on both economic development and tourism,” Houma Travel Assistant Director Joey Pierce said.

Terrebonne has a wide demographic range, seeing many natives of the area stay through retirement, while newcomers are constantly flowing in especially as the oil and gas industry rebounds, he said.

“If you are born here, you’re going to want to stay here,” Pierce said. “There are a lot of intrinsic qualities people of this area love.”

Promoting the parish as a retirement community will not only help tourism by encouraging potential retirees to visit before settling down, it could also spark growth in the housing and job markets, he said.

About 20 miles north of Houma, Thibodaux also boasts a robust retirement community.

“Among the many factors that make Thibodaux an ideal retirement community are its fair taxes, recreational opportunities and healthcare facilities, which make for a second-to-none experience for all those who call this city their home,” the website states. It also notes the state-of-the-art Wellness Center at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, the many festivals and events, and the work in the historic district by Thibodaux Main Street.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at@JuliaArenstam.

 

Officials Tout Tourism’s Benefits Locally, Statewide

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Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser joined Terrebonne Parish officials today to highlight tourism’s contribution locally and statewide.

“The tourism industry continues to grow in a time when a lot of other industries are suffering in Louisiana,” Nungesser said during a brief celebration at Terrebonne’s tourist center in Gray. “It is a shining bright light for Louisiana.”

Nungesser, who is making stops across the state for National Tourism Week, said 2017 was the sixth straight year of record-breaking tourism numbers in Louisiana.

The state welcomed 47.1 million visitors last year, up nearly 500,000 compared to 2016, according to numbers from the tourism and travel research firm DK Shifflet. Those visitors spent $17.5 billion, an average of $371 per person.

The travel and tourism industry generated $1.8 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, an increase of 4.5 percent from 2016, Nungesser said. That revenue represents a 37-to-1 return on investment of state funding. Tax revenue generated through travel and tourism spending saves each household in Louisiana $1,047 a year in taxes that would be needed to maintain current services.

Nungesser also discussed the state’s new branding campaign -- Louisiana: Feed Your Soul, saying it conveys to the world that no other state can offer the bounty of food, music, history and culture Louisiana can.

“This exciting new brand will offer travelers a new outlook – that you may come to Louisiana hungry, but you’ll leave with your soul full of all the rewarding experiences we offer,” he said. “There is truly nowhere else in the world that can feed your soul like we can.”

Here are some other statistics he and local tourism officials offered today:

  • Last year, 14.3 million airplane passengers traveled into and out of the state, up 6.7 percent from 2016. It was the first year of direct, international flights from London and Frankfurt, Germany, into Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans.

  • In Terrebonne, visitors spent $189.5 million and supported 2,680 jobs in 2016, according to the latest figures available. People from 48 states and 33 countries visited.

  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows 236,300 jobs resulted from visitor spending in Louisiana in 2017. That means one of every 8.5 working adults in Louisiana is employed as a result of the tourism industry.

  • Since 2007, tourism is the second fastest-growing job sector in Louisiana, increasing more than 20 percent since then and adding more than 40,000 jobs to the state’s workforce.