‘Take Me To The River’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2006

River Parishes tourism group sees return of lost business



LAPLACE – Just one year ago, following the results of Hurricane Katrina on the River Region, some wondered if the tourism business would ever be the same.

Plantations and swamp tour attractions in particular were hit extremely hard, since much of their business came from tourists coming to New Orleans.

And while the plantations have weathered the most challenging year in their history, a year later it appears the rich treasured attraction of the River Region is slowly rebounding to survive.

River Parish Tourism Commission Director Jesse Lambert made that point at a recent gathering in New Orleans of all manner of tourism related people. A seminar put together by Lambert and her staff proved to be outstanding in letting the Destination Management Companies (DMC’s) know that the plantations are alive and well.

The event was held at Muriel’s in Jackson Square, and gave all local tourist attractions a chance to set up a display and let the tour operators know that they are open for business.

&#8220These are all the companies who are contacted by groups when conventions are coming to town,” she said. &#8220So we wanted to let them know that we are in good shape here, and can offer them some great tourist packages for their people.”

The plantation business was all but eliminated for a short time after the hurricane and has been slowly getting its base of operation back.

But Lambert said most plantations are now getting about &#822025 to 30 percent” of the business they had before the storm. Other tourist attractions in the area report the same numbers.

&#8220We’re rockin’ and rollin’ as far as I can see,” Lambert said with her usual enthusiasm. &#8220The reaction was just awesome from the people at our gathering, and we’re trying to be very pro-active to let people know we are here and able to take care of any tourist needs.”

Lambert said that the plantations have made special strides to accommodate extra special requests from groups looking to book special events.

&#8220We wanted the DMC’s to know that we can do special things, like get a Jazz band to their brunch, or things like that,” she said.

Lambert said that the numbers reporting so far are especially good when you consider the summer is traditionally a slow time.

&#8220I think the results are going to really take off in the fall,” she added. &#8220A lot of tour operators have watched to see how we have rebounded from the hurricane and now they can see we are OK. I think the state has gotten the word out too, and I think we’ll really start growing even faster now.”