Boe pushes for St. John to stay in Tourist Commission

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

LAPLACE —As the new Executive Director of River Parishes Tourist Commission, St. John the Baptist Parish native Buddy Boe aims to market the culture and history of the River Region as a unified package while maintaining communication with Parish Council members and other stakeholders.

Boe, only a week into his new position, had to respond to concerns regarding the Tourist Commission at a St. John the Baptist Parish Council meeting last week.

Councilmen Larry Sorapuru and Larry Snyder said St. John Parish isn’t getting “the best bang for its buck” in promoting tourism through the Commission.

Snyder and Lennix Madere questioned why the Tourist Commission is housed at the St. John Parish Civic Center at no cost, to which Boe responded there are benefits provided to the Center in lieu of rent.

River Parishes Tourist Commission budgets $20,000 annually to market the Civic Center to groups interested in renting it out, especially focusing on film industry opportunities that also benefit local businesses, restaurants and hotels, according to Boe.

In response to the notion of St. John Parish leaving to operate as its own entity, Boe said the River Region is most marketable when unified.

“Just like floods don’t know parish boundaries and we have unified flood protection, visitors don’t know parish boundaries,” Boe said.

“We’re stronger and easier to recognize to a visitor in that way, and it makes our dollars go further. We are going to continue to make sure the River Region is marketed and promoted as a unique package.”

One of Boe’s goals is to capitalize on the New Orleans Tricentennial by making the River Parishes a day trip for the masses of tourists expected to pour into the city in 2018.

Currently, the River Region attracts 4 percent of all New Orleans tourists, and Boe said moving the needle to 8 percent is an achievable goal that will be a game changer for local businesses.

Making the region marketable to visitors involves building up attractions that tell the unique story of the River Parishes, Boe said. He plans to draw attention to historic districts, swamp tours, plantations, beautification efforts and culinary flavors that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Taking advantage of the 50 percent wetlands and water makeup of local parishes presents an opportunity to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, Boe said. St. John the Baptist Parish in particular has access to beautiful lakes perfect for water sport rentals.

Throughout the process, Boe said he would keep parish councils, administrators and business owners informed.

He said St. John Parish Council members were previously only receiving updates the week before designated meetings, leading to concerns over marketing and representation.

Boe hopes to meet with stakeholders and remain connected to the community in his new position. He’s been happy to represent the River Parishes around the state and around the country, and he feels it’s time to return to his roots.

“I recently purchased a home in St. James, I currently live in LaPlace and I operate a business in Garyville,” Boe said.

“My roots are here. My professional history and my personal history are here.”