BR tourism benefiting from foreign marketing

Baton Rouge tourism is benefiting this year from local participation in a federal marketing program known as Brand USA.

Visit Baton Rouge Vice President Renee Areng told the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday that means this is the first year for the local area to promote its tourist spots to people in foreign countries.

Areng added the program requires state and local sharing of expenses.

She said Visit Baton Rouge paid $20,000 into the project to promote the city in countries where Spanish, French or German is spoken.

The impact from that effort is expected to be at least five times the expense, Areng said.

Areng’s comments were made as a string of big events approaches Baton Rouge.

Bayou Country Superfest 2014 is set to open at Tiger Stadium on May 23, with headliners George Strait and Reba McIntire.

The 2014 Miss USA pageant is scheduled for the Baton Rouge River Center on June 8.

But all 50 contestants, Areng said, will arrive in Baton Rouge by May 26, the day after the three-day Superfest concludes.

During their two-week stay, the contestants will visit the Governor’s Mansion en masse, Areng said. They also will visit other area sites and landmarks in smaller groups.

“They’ll divide and conquer,” Areng said.

Each of those small events is expected to build the area’s image as a tourist destination, Areng said, because “all of them (contestants) have huge followings” on social networks.

A regional U.S. Youth Soccer tournament June 19-26, featuring teams from several cities and states, is expected to attract 20,000 people. About 14,000 of those visitors will be soccer players, and their estimated economic impact on the area ranges between $14 million and $18 million.

Former LSU soccer goalie and homecoming queen Mo Isom soon will appear in television spots in which she promotes area tourist destinations ranging from the USS Kidd to the Baton Rouge Zoo, Areng said.

Areng also said Visit Baton Rouge needs area residents to tweet photos of their favorite local events and landmarks to #GoBR.

She said tweets sometimes attract substantial followings. Such followings are worth about $19 each in tourist dollars.