Tourism is an economic force that benefits the entire parish, and Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism awarded $80,000 in funds this week to finance five projects aimed at driving more visitors to the destination.
The tourism office’s Tourism Investment Program (TIP) is a way for the parish to support improvements to tourism-related projects and therefore make Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou an ever-more appealing destination for out-of-town guests.
Beneficiaries of the funding include the Laurel Heritage Foundation, Friends of Bayou Lafourche, Greater Lafourche Port Fourchon Commission, Ben Meyer Foundation, and Nicholls State University Foundation. The funds were gained by a portion of the room tax revenues generated from overnight guests to the parish.
The biggest portion of the funding will go toward opening Laurel Valley Plantation Village to the public for the first time in its more-than-200-year history. Laurel Valley, which dates to the 1780s, is regarded as the oldest sugarcane plantation in the country. Thanks to TIP funds, the site will soon be much more accessible to visitors.
The project calls for a four-step approach to improving the site: creating a proper pathway and parking area, replacing a barbed-wire fence with a rustic and more historically accurate wooden fence, the continued renovation of buildings to make them more attractive and accessible, and a new marketing campaign. As part of the building renovation, the team at Laurel Valley intends to install interpretive panels that highlight the significance of the plantation in local, regional and national history.
Meanwhile, the Friends of Bayou Lafourche have earmarked their funds to create a proper outdoor welcome area near the parish’s official visitor center on Highway 1 in Raceland. Visitors to Lafourche Parish should immediately understand the interconnectivity between Bayou Lafourche and all aspects of life here.
Thanks to TIP funds, soon those visitors will be able to admire the bayou from an area that features a floating dock with two benches, waste receptacles, pedestrian pathways and interpretive signage.
Further developing the theme of the bayou dictating life in the parish, the Greater Lafourche Port Fourchon Commission Eco-Tourism Project will promote the natural environment by establishing viewfinders along the recreational area of Port Fourchon, giving visitors a front-row seat for simply enjoying the water view or participating in one of the most popular low-impact forms of outdoor recreation here on the bayou ... birdwatching.
During migration season, birdwatchers can count nearly 300 species of birds as the animals arrive and depart the Mississippi Flyway; year-round, visitors can appreciate the countless species that make their permanent home in the marsh. Signs will provide information about those birds and also educate visitors about projects aimed at protecting natural resources.
The 40-acre recreation area where the viewfinders will be installed is already a fantastic example of how fish, bird and plant populations can thrive in an environment that’s properly respected and cared for by visitors and residents alike.
Funds awarded to the Ben Meyer Foundation will benefit the Acadia Music Fest, a one-day festival that takes place in Thibodaux each October. The event draws musicians of local, national and international note and includes a craft market as well as a full array of Southern foods. The TIP funds will be spent on the festival’s marketing efforts.
The final recipient, Nicholls State University Foundation, will use its TIP money to make the parish’s holiday celebration extra-jolly. The group’s goal is to create a Holiday Trail of Lights that features a self-driving tour along LA 1 as it passes by Nicholls and then onto the campus, where thousands of twinkling lights will transform the school into a winter wonderland.
“A common thread among the TIP submissions is that their goals are to make Lafourche Parish an incredible place to live and an essential one to visit. We feel that these projects embody Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou brand of authentic Cajun culture found up and down the Bayou and the spirit of our local people who make this area so unique,” said, Timothy P. Bush, president & CEO.
TIP was implemented in 2016 and has awarded $176,000 in grants since its inception.
For more information about how the parish positions itself as a phenomenal tourism destination, visit www.lacajunbayou.com.
Posted on Fri, March 15, 2019
by The Lafourche Gazette