Ascension launches new logo

A shopping bag, a plantation home and a steaming pot of jambalaya are featured on Ascension Parish’s newest tourism logo.

Those three simple icons represent the top reasons tourists come to Ascension Parish, said Tracy Browning, director of the Ascension Parish Tourism Commission.

Browning said the icons are part of the agency’s recent re-branding campaign, aimed at increasing the number of visitors to the parish.

Browning said she received comments that the commission’s previous logo looked like it represented a bank or a church because it was too formal.

So, the simple Tour Ascension logo tells visitors exactly what they can expect to see when they stop in the parish, she said.

The Tour Ascension campaign also launched a new website for the agency and a push to social media.

Browning, 46, was hired in July 2012 to lead the parish’s tourism efforts. She said her marketing and public relations background has come in handy as she moves forward with the re-branding.

“I wear all the hats at this job,” she said.

Browning, who moved to Ascension Parish from Baton Rouge 12 years ago, reports to a seven-member volunteer board appointed by the Ascension Parish Council. She oversees a $360,000 budget, which is funded from a state 2 percent hotel-motel occupancy tax.

She also works with tourism boards in Gonzales and Donaldsonville.

These days, she said, tourism promotions include more than brochures and websites.

Today’s travelers turn to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites for information, she said.

Current promotions are targeting out-of-towners attending LSU football games.

She’s also working on promotions to encourage folks to stop in Ascension during the Bayou Country Fest and other regional events.

Browning and her two staff employees work in the parish’s tourist center on La. 22 in Sorrento.

While many don’t think of Ascension as a tourist destination, the parish ranked 17th in state in 2011, employing 580 in tourism-related jobs and generating more than $10 million in payroll.

“If it were not for the state and local taxes paid by tourists visiting Ascension Parish, each household would pay $143 more (a year) in taxes,” Browning said.

The commission is working on a new “get-connected” campaign to promote the area’s culture, history and food.

The campaign is designed to tempt visitors to get off Interstate 10 and “see what we have to offer here,” she said.

Within 10 minutes of I-10, visitors can find alligators at the Cajun Village, two plantations and several bed-and-breakfast businesses, she said.

The campaign also highlights the culture and historic significance of Donaldsonville, the parish seat.

Ascension’s location between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is one of the reasons for its popularity among tourists.

Browning said that while some tourists happen upon Ascension Parish on their travels, others plan to stop to visit a plantation, shop at Tanger Outlet Center or Cabela’s or dine at one of the more than 150 restaurants the parish.

“Compared to other parishes, we have lots to show off,” she said. “There’s a lot to say when putting together an ad about Ascension Parish.”