BATON ROUGE, La. -- For Louisiana, 1999 was a big tourism year with
FrancoFete, a yearlong celebration of special events, activities
and promotions commemorating the 300th anniversary of French
However, if U.S. visitors for the first half of 2000 are any
indication, that year's arrival numbers will outstrip those of
With momentum increasing, the state also targeted its major
markets with an increased advertising budget for the fiscal year
that began July 1.
In 1999, Louisiana had 24.6 million U.S. visitors, a 4% increase
compared with 1998; for the first half of 2000, the increase was a
dramatic 10%, according to the Department of Culture, Recreation
and Tourism, citing Travel Industry Association of America (TIA)
"Growth has continued, but we never realized it would continue
as strong as this. There is no doubt we are feeling the strong
momentum created by FrancoFete," said Phillip Jones, department
"Arrivals for the first quarter were up, but for the second
quarter they were up considerably," he said.
After FrancoFete, in early 2000 Louisiana began a three-year
promotion with music as its main marketing theme, with the tag
line, "Follow the Music to Louisiana."
"This will take us up to 2003, and a buildup for the
[anniversary of the] Louisiana Purchase [signed Dec. 20, 1803]," he
A yearlong promotion celebrating the purchase, beginning January
2003, is planned.
Jones said that although 1999's 4% increase in U.S. visitors
might not seem significant, it is when considering that total
travel within the U.S. rose less than 1%.
For the five years from 1995 to 1999, the state's U.S. visitors
increased 17.6% compared with a 7.7% national increase, he added,
citing TIA statistics.
In 1999, Louisiana had approximately 700,000 foreign visitors, a
number that was flat with the previous year.
No international figures are available for 2000 except for
Canada, the fastest-growing foreign market.
Canadian visitors totaled 104,000 in 1999, a 65% increase
compared with 1998; for the first six months of 2000, they totaled
71,800, up 33%.
Jones attributes the growth to Louisiana's high profile in the
past several years at the International Montreal Jazz Festival and
an increase in flights to New Orleans from Canada.
For this fiscal year, the state's total tourism budget increased
to $9 million from $8.5 million, and its advertising budget went
from $5.7 million to $6.4 million.
Jones noted that for FrancoFete, the state appropriated an extra
$1 million, but the money mainly went to special events and
promotions and was not part of the overall marketing budget.
With this fiscal year's increase, the department has more than
doubled the number of its major target markets, in which it
advertises on cable channels and in consumer magazines.
In the past, it has targeted five markets: Houston, Dallas,
Atlanta, Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss. This fiscal year, it has
added seven more: Nashville; Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; Raleigh and
Charlotte, N.C.; Tucson, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M.
"We're going aggressively after new visitors," said Jones,
adding that several of the seven new cities that show the most
promise will be added to the target markets in future years.
Other Louisiana promotional efforts include:A total of $1 million invested in "Jazz," the Ken Burns
documentary series airing on PBS this month.The Audubon Golf Trail, a golf promotion with five to eight
golf courses participating. The trail, with a state annual
marketing budget of $1 million a year, will be ready in the
fall.A Civil War trail, which is in the early planning stages and
for which funding will be sought from the legislature.