Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tourism is the key to Louisiana recovery

Louisiana is a state that is dependent on tourism for the economy. It is typically the main source of income for the state and it needs it now more than ever to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The rich cultural heritage of south Louisiana is the biggest draw for the state and so it comes as no surprise that Mardi Gras organizers have vowed that the celebration will continue in New Orleans on February 28, 2006. I don't expect it to be the full blown Mardi Gras that the city is accustomed to, however it will be a good thing for continuity and as a symbol that New Orleans will return to it's former glory.

As we approach the middle of the college football season, I was saddened to learn that of the two holiday bowl games usually played in New Orleans, only one will be hosted in the state this year. The New Orleans Bowl typically played in the Superdome will be played on December 20 in my hometown of Lafayette at Cajun Field, the home to the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. I'm glad to see that at least this third-tier bowl is staying in the state that so desperately needs the revenue. However, the decision to move the BCS Sugar Bowl to Atlanta strikes me as kicking the state while it's down. Tiger Stadium on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge is more than capable of hosting the Sugar Bowl as it is much larger that Atlanta's Georgia Dome and it would aid in recovery as fans' dollars would be spent in a state that needs them. But come January 2, 2006, the Sugar Bowl will be the Peach Bowl II.

Finally the annual Bayou Classic between Grambling State and Southern University will move from it's home at the Superdome to Reliant Stadium in Houston for this year's Thanksgiving matchup. Understandably, Texas needs some relief from Hurricane Rita as well so I can let this one slide a little, however Shreveport was considered as a potential site of this years game. I can't help but think that organizers could have been a little more considerate about the impact that these moves will have on a state that is already in desperate need of a return of the tourism it is so dependent upon.


Bob K said...

Wes, I agree that tourism is a key to the recovery of Louisiana, but the key?

I try to picture places whose economies are largely or wholly dependent on tourism. They seem to fall into two groups: out-of-touch, hard-to-reach towns or islands that are not "real" places where "real" people live. Think Aspen, Hilton Head, or Naples. The second group are areas where real people live, but are separated from the tourists by walls (either physical walls or de facto boundaries). Think Cancuun, Jamaica, Washington DC, and before last month--New Orleans.

Bubba said...

After 911 New York did everything it could to bring the tourist back on its road to recovery. For an economy as diversified as New York, it shows that tourism is a big deal that they would try to bring it back. And they have. I can easily conceed that tourism would be even more important in a place like New Orleans, along with big events, (Super Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Final Four) and conventions.

As for the Sugar Bowl this year, I know I felt they should have given it to Houston as a thank you for all Houston did to help.