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River Parishes Tourist Commission grows in 2019

LAPLACE — The River Parishes Tourist Commission has reached new heights in the first half of 2019, starting with the move to a new office location at 671 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace.

Previously, the commission’s office was located in the St. John Parish Community Center through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement signed in 2008 whereby the Commission would utilize the office space in the building in exchange for the promotion and management of the facility use. The agreement was in place until 2017. In 2018, the Commission began the process of looking for long term, independent office space.  The Parish and Commission are working towards a new agreement to manage the center moving forward.

The new office space allows for easier access by visitors and locals alike to gain information about the region’s hospitality & tourism industry and work with the commission’s staff to increase visitation to the area.

The regional commission, tasked with promoting the River Parishes, is domiciled in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“Our new offices have allowed us to be more accessible to the visitor and serve the region in an independent space we can grow into,” said Peggy Joseph, Chair of the RPTC.

Executive Director Buddy Boe said the move paves the way for and eventual tourist hub and visitor center for travelers exiting the Interstate.

“As we began to look for our own space, this location was the perfect spot to locate an office that should be welcoming and open to locals and visitors alike. Our staff feels at home and has been able to better serve the community,” said Buddy Boe, Executive Director of the RPTC.

Members and supporters of the River Parishes Tourist Commission celebrate the opening of the new office location during the April ribbon cutting.

The need for a visitor center is great, as the River Parishes Tourist Commission announced a $16.71 million increase in visitor spending from 2017 to 2018, along with a 13 percent increase in hospitality and tourism related jobs.

In May, the Tourist Commission and River Region Chamber of Commerce announced a formal partnership aimed at growing and supporting the business community throughout the River Parishes.

The executive director of the River Parishes Tourist Commission will serve as an ex-officio member of the Chamber’s board.

This month, the Commission will kick off a two-month DestinationNEXT survey of the River Parishes to assess the region’s strengths and weaknesses.

The survey results will be the foundational starting point for the strategic planning process anticipated to begin in September 2019.

The Commission is comprised of nine board members, three from each parish, and is funded primarily by occupancy taxes collected at area hotels, RV Parks, short-term rentals, B&Bs and plantations offering overnight accommodations. Those funds are used to promote the area at tradeshows, in publications, and online in an effort to attracts individual visitors and groups to visit the River Region.