BP grant to bring travel writers to Acadia’s Mardi Gras events
By PAUL KEDINGER
Members of the Acadia Parish Tourist Commission heard some good news on efforts to entice visitors to the parish’s attractions along with a progress report on efforts to construct a conference center during their meeting Thursday morning.
A small group of travel media writers will be experiencing Mardi Gras in Acadia Parish on March 5, reported Executive Director Gwen Hanks as the result of a $250,000 grant from British Petroleum to promote tourism in the six parish area encompassing Acadia, St. Landry, Vermilion, St. Martin, Jeff Davis and Lafayette.
The Acadiana Coalition is dedicating $100,000 of the grant funds to introduce 40 to 45 members of the Travel Writers Society of America to experience tourism attractions in the six parishes over the coming months.
Locally, seven travel writers will arrive here on March 5 to experience the chicken run connected with Church Point’s Mardi Gras festivities, Crowley’s Mardi Gras celebration, and spend a night in Rayne before traveling to Lafayette for its celebration.
Other travel writers will be introduced to events in other parishes, such as the Crawfish Festival in St. Martin Parish, Hanks explained.
The BP grant will also fund a media blitz in Chicago on Feb. 23 to promote Louisiana’s seafood industry and music.
In connection with the Chicago promotion, Hanks showed Commission board members a colored, two-sided sheet promoting Acadia Parish which will be included in the media packets.
Hanks also reported House Bill No. 2, which contains the Commission’s request for a $3 million capital outlay grant, has impressed those who have reviewed the grant application.
“It has all the bells and whistles”, Hanks remarked about those who have shared their opinions on the funding request.
Commissioners agreed to distribute copies of the capital outlay documents to area legislators, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne prior to the April 25 opening of the Louisiana Legislature.
Isabella de laHoussaye, coordinator on the Commission’s conference center project, reported architect Trey Trahan, hired to prepare a conceptual design and a construction cost estimate for the conference center, is working with David O’Neal, who is a national and international expert on conference centers.
In addition to serving as a location for conferences, the project also is envisioned as a tourist and learning center with the addition of a micro brewery and a cooking school, with both focusing on the use of rice. The brewery and cooking school “will be a huge draw to this area,” said de laHoussaye.
Attorney Scott Privat reported a court hearing is scheduled Feb. 14 on the Commission’s lawsuit for past due occupancy taxes from a parish motel, which forward ed its last payment of the two percent taxes in August.
In other business, Commissioners amended their 2010 budget and held election of officers.
Re-elected were Cheryl Richard, president; Charlotte Jeffers, vice president; and Paul Broussard, secretary-treasurer.
Board members were also invited to express which committees on which they might wish to serve.