Your Nov. 20 report on Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s concern that executive budget expropriations are undermining consistency, value and impact in state tourism efforts suggests imprudent management of the already-limited funds that yield so many benefits for the growing cultural economy.
How ironic that a self-proclaimed champion of the private sector like Gov. Bobby Jindal decides to earmark (read: take away) $7 million plus of the state’s tourism budget for promotion of the Super Bowl and the Women’s FInal Four. By simple fact of their national significance and broadcasts the NFL, NCAA and their advertisers automatically give Louisiana huge free publicity around such events. In an era of cutbacks, those private-sector resources should foot the bill of such highly visible attractions that will already have much local promotion built into them.
The Office of Tourism, overseen by the lieutenant governor, has many low-cost/high-result projects and well-targeted, ongoing creative efforts to promote the state as a natural and cultural destination. If the governor hopes to benefit in his own national visibility with large arbitrary rewards to the TV networks and other message carriers around the sports events, he’d likely do better instead supporting Louisiana’s multilayered, and highly attractive cultural economy as a model built on the planning and guidance of professionals in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Beyond the politics and our love of the Super Bowl in the Superdome (especially if the Saints climb back in!) and women’s college basketball, the capricious draining of a well-considered state tourism budget takes funds, attention and messaging away from local attractions and producers that increasingly have national significance on their own terms.
It has been a long climb to bring Louisiana’s deep and wide cultural attractions in diverse music of international significance, a traditionally creative variety of cuisines, community-building festivals, and Carnival itself as well as our built and natural landscapes that speak to Old Worlds of Europe, Africa and Native America that all played a part in building Louisiana.
Why turn our back on that burgeoning realm of clean and renewable resources for Louisiana’s economy based in our people and way of life, in favor of last-minute promotional splurging on sports events that could have been planned for at best, and are already largely redundant at worst?
host of public radio’s “American Routes”