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Southern tourist attractions pitch tour operators at Shreveport convention

Kate Archer Kent

Almost 600 tour operators are converging on the Shreveport Convention Center for a three-day meeting that puts the tourist attractions in a dozen Southern states in the spotlight.

Delegates of the Travel South Showcase are meeting face-to-face with tourism officials and attraction promoters who give them their best pitch as to why they belong on their next tour.

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne briefed journalists Monday on the magnitude of tourism in the Bayou State. In 2013, 27.3 million tourists visited the state spending $10.8 billion, according to Dardenne. (The 2014 statewide numbers are due out next month.)

“Tourism is a big business. It is a job creator. It’s a major driver of the Louisiana economy,” Dardenne said, from a podium positioned in the center of the convention floor. “To be able to host a major event like this is a real feather in the cap for the Shreveport-Bossier folks as well as for the entire state of Louisiana.”

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Travel South USA, but it’s never been held in a smaller city like Shreveport, according Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau president Stacy Brown. Conventions in Shreveport-Bossier have rebounded since the Great Recession and the slowdown in gas drilling, according to Brown.

Travel South USA is holding its 50th conference at the Shreveport Convention Center.

“Back in 2010, when the Haynesville Shale drilling was really big, and we had a lot of oil and gas workers in our hotels, we turned down some meetings business. It takes a little while to catch back. So, that’s what we’re working on and we’re very strong once again in our meetings business,” Brown said.

Brown added that bookings are up for the next few years. Her agency just landed the Louisiana Travel and Tourism Summit in 2017.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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