Louisiana Woos West Coast Canadian Visitors

with B.A.

Mike Prejean, Louisiana Office of Tourism; Eugenie Mitchell, Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission; Tracy Francis, Visit Baton Rouge; Joanne Scalamogna, Canadian rep. for Louisiana Tourism & Marc Becker, The New Orleans Hotel Collection

Amigos Travel's Lily Xu flanked by Audrey Martyn & Ross McKinnon of Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Visit Baton Rouge's Tracy Francis with Jalal Nanji, Accessible Travel Venture

Welcoming travel agents to a lively evening reception at Gastown's trendy Steamworks Brew Pub recently, Mike Prejean, International Manager for the Louisiana Office of Tourism, invited his guests to enjoy a taste of what the Big Easy is famous for... food, music and culture.

And, perhaps what we all didn't know and Prejean reminded us - is that the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch listed the state of Louisiana as the happiest place in the U.S. with Lafayette being the happiest city in the country!. Other Louisiana cities that also made the top 10 were Houma; Shreveport-Bossier City; Baton Rouge; Alexandria and Lake Charles. Not bad for a state that overcame such adversity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina just 10 years ago.

Responding to many agents' queries, Tracy Francis, Destination Sales Manager – Tourism, Visit Baton Rouge said, “We went through an amazing renaissance after Katrina. Things are now back to normal." Added Marc Becker of The New Orleans Hotel Collection which represents 7 boutique properties in the French Quarter, “New Orleans is even better now; you have to come and see for yourself".

During the mini trade show, along with a plethora of promotional materials, I picked up “From the Land of Tabasco Sauce". The little booklet features Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco Brand Products. It was the 1 st place to bottle and sell the famous product in 1869. Today, the factory still churns out Tabasco sauce and is open for public tours.

On the topic of food, guests were treated to a delectable spread of authentic Creole-influenced cuisine including Jambalaya and gumbo - which took spice to a whole new level – thank goodness we were in a brew pub and beer was on hand!

Vancouver was the only stop in Canada for the Louisiana entourage which also visited tour operators and travel agencies the following day. Rouding out the team were Eugenie Mitchell, Vice President of Tourism Sales, Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission and Joanne Scalamogna, Canadian representative for Louisiana Tourism.

Agents selling The Big Easy may be interested to know that from now till June 30 th, Air Canada Vacations is offering bonus Aeroplan miles for air and hotel packages. Air Canada offers daily non-stop flights to New Orleans from Toronto with connections to/from Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

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