New tourism director chosen out of over 100 applicants

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – After nearly a month of deliberations and reviewing competitive applications, the River Parishes Tourist Commission (RPTC) on Tuesday named its new executive director.

Jay A. Tusa, a Loyola University graduate with an extensive background in tourism, has accepted the position and is slated to join the commission later this month.

RPTC Chairman Paul Aucoin in a statement described Tusa as “well-rounded in all aspects of the industry.”

“His passion for tourism was evident throughout our discussions,” he said.

Tusa was chosen from a pool of more than 100 applicants that Aucoin said were “very competitive.”

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the River Parishes Tourist Commission,” Tusa said in a press release. “The River Parishes have limitless potential and I look forward to reinforcing the commission’s traditional initiatives with ambitious new ideas to reach wider audiences.”

In an interview, Tusa said he planned to embark on several new initiatives in St. John the Baptist Parish including a focus on the “SMERF segment,” a marketing term that stands for social, military, education, religious and fraternity.

“There’s lots of opportunities for us with what I bring to the table,” he said.  

Tusa most recently served as the marketing manager for Stirling Properties in Covington and, prior to that, worked as advertising manager for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A search committee began accepting applications for the position shortly after Jesse Lambert resigned May 9. Lambert had served as director for three years and was widely credited with the region’s tourism recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Aucoin told L’Observateur last month that Lambert would be “hard to replace.”

“She did such an excellent job for us, and enriched everything we did here,” he said.

But Aucoin said Monday that the committee felt “very comfortable” with at least 10 of the final candidates.

“There were about four of them who could have done the job,” he said in a telephone interview.

Aucoin declined to identify any of the other finalists, citing the confidentiality of the selection process. He attributed the large amount of applications to the privacy of a “closed process” for which the group had opted.

 “People weren’t afraid of losing their jobs by applying,” he said

The details of Tusa’s contract had not been finalized as of Thursday, but Aucoin said Tusa’s salary would be around $68,000, the same amount Lambert was receiving when she resigned.