Louisiana receives federal money for tourism marketing

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Louisiana state officials said they have received authorization to distribute about $28.5 million in federal funds to tourism marketing organizations in the state.

Earlier this month, the funding was approved by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In a press conference last week in Baton Rouge, officials said the money will fund the Louisiana Tourism Marketing Program, an effort to help revive tourism in the region. A major share, 71%, will go to marketing groups in New Orleans.

According to state officials, 17 agencies will share the marketing money.

Among those receiving funds will be the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., which will evenly split about $17 million.

At the press conference, Angele Davis, Louisiana's secretary of culture, recreation and tourism, said the state has suffered estimated economic losses of $2.2 billion, the result of 7 million fewer visitors to the region this year in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Davis estimated that the state continues to lose about $15 million a day in tourism revenue, even though most tourism-related businesses, hotels, restaurants and venues have been restored and are fully operational.

Among New Orleans organizations allocated funds are the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, which operates the New Orleans Arena and the Superdome; the Jefferson Convention and Visitor's Bureau; the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center; the Northshore Harbor Center; the River Parishes Tourist Commission; the St. Bernard Parish Office of Tourism; and the St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission.

Davis said that state officials originally had limited expectations of receiving funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for marketing efforts, but that the state  overcame "a lot of hurdles" to secure the money from the federal housing agency.

To contact reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to [email protected].

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