The state budget, taxes, higher education funding and tax breaks for small businesses. These are all the standard campaign issues that come up inevitably during Louisiana’s gubernatorial race.
For Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, though, tourism is the issue his campaign should probably be taking a hold of and running with.
Under Dardenne’s leadership, 2014 was yet another record-breaking year for the state’s tourism industry, the long-time Republican announced today.
With the Louisiana Office of Tourism guided by Dardenne, the state brought in 28.7 million visitors in 2014, which is a 5 percent increase from 2013’s numbers. Ultimately, this garnered $11.2 billion in total visitor spending and generated $836 million in state tax revenue.
“Tourism had yet another great year thanks to creative marketing, dedicated industry leaders throughout the state and an incredible product—the many passions Louisiana offers,” said Dardenne in a news release. “Tourism and hospitality was Louisiana’s fastest growing job sector in 2014 with 223,000 Louisianians employed in the industry.”
When Dardenne first took office as Lt. Gov. of the state, back in November of 2010, there did not seem to be a tourism strategy of attracting new visitors every year.
Dardenne changed all of that, however, creating the “Louisiana: Pick Your Passion” campaign, which essentially promoted the amount of options visitors have when they travel to the state.
And ever since 2012, Dardenne’s tourism plan has worked, with record-breaking numbers coming out of the state’s Tourism Office every year.
It is not just travelers to the state that Dardenne has attracted with his campaign. The state’s tourism online platform, LouisianaTravel.com, has been ranked as the fifth best tourism website in the country.
Also, Louisiana Travel’s social media platform has been ranked fourth among state tourism social media accounts across the country. Both the site and social media have grown dramatically under Dardenne.
In 2014, there was a 201 percent increase of views on YouTube for the state’s Tourism Office and 96 percent increase in Twitter followers.
As Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration tries to find a solution to the state’s budget crisis, the issue of tourism’s impact on the state is one that Dardenne’s campaign should be touting just about everywhere, considering the remarkable numbers released today.
Dardenne faces challenges from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) and Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite).