Growing local tourism, one ride at a time: United Front ladies chosen for Louisiana Ambassador Award
Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 4, 2019
LAPLACE – When United Front Transportation Services got its start in St. John the Baptist Parish in 2017, business owners Dayna James and Shaun Adams never anticipated they would receive a Louisiana Ambassador Award from the lieutenant governor.
In the midst of dropping off children to school and driving elderly residents to medical appointments, James and Adams saw a door open to the exciting world of tourism. The ladies have advocated for economic growth in the River Parishes one ride at a time by shuttling travel writers from across the globe and transporting locals and visitors alike to the region’s unique restaurants and plantation tours.
Last week, the ladies were invited to the annual Tourism Summit Luncheon in Baton Rouge, where they received a Louisiana Ambassador Award trophy from Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.
Buddy Boe of the River Parishes Tourist Commission nominated United Front Transportation Services for the prestigious award after working closely with the ladies in travel tours.
Adams did not expect the nomination, but she saw it as a great honor and a sign that United Front is making a true impact as a small business in the River Region.
“I was definitely surprised, individually speaking,” Adams said. “It was an honor to even have our business considered for the nomination, not to mention the award. We love what we do. By traveling to pick people up and bring them to plantations and other destinations, we’ve met a lot of really good and nice people. It definitely has broadened my horizons as far as Louisiana, what we have, and what we are able to do here.”
Prior to transporting guests through United Front, Adams did not realize how many attractions were practically in her backyard.
James said the Tourism Summit further expanded her knowledge of the region, and meeting the movers and shakers behind other Louisiana attractions has given her a model for how the local tourism industry can grow.
“We definitely see ourselves going further,” James said. “We’re going to tap more into the tourism area because we see the need. Once you’ve been exposed to something great, you can’t go backwards. We love Louisiana. We love St. John Parish, St. Charles and St. James, and we see the potential.”
James hopes to connect United Front to the Louisiana Travel Association and Nungesser’s Office. She recently attended a meeting in Vacherie to learn about becoming involved in a new Louisiana Civil Rights Trail, which has a proposed stop along W. Fifth Street in St. John Parish.
“That also will bring economic development into the parish,” James said. “I thank God for using us as a tool to bring things back that we have been exposed to. This has definitely brought us to another level of seeing what Louisiana has to offer.”
Adams and James have been active in the River Region Chamber of Commerce, and they work to support local businesses through their travel tours.
Their contributions to tourism kicked off with Lunch and Tour packages transporting guests to Whitney Plantation, Riverlands Christian Center, Oak Alley Plantation, Laura Plantation, Destrehan Plantation, San Francisco Plantation, Cajun Pride Swamp Tours and other sites.
According to James, United Front has partnered with local restaurants to offer guests lunch along with the tours. Those who attend a Whitney Plantation tour have lunch at B&C Seafood Market and Cajun Restaurant in Vacherie, while Cajun Pride Swamp Tour attendees enjoy a meal from ZoraChristina Café and Catering in LaPlace.
One of the first events United Front hosted was a pop-up shop in partnership with Clay’s Café in LaPlace.
According to Adams, United Front has expanded outside of the Parish to Ascension Parish, where guests were transported to a festival and to an LSU game. Rides have also been provided to bring locals to Jazz Fest and Essence Festival in New Orleans.
The ladies have recently started transporting wedding parties to reception venues and hotels. They are also working in a close partnership with the Lafon Center for Performing Arts in St. Charles Parish, where they have shuttled visiting musicians.
The white United Front Transportation vans seen throughout St. John Parish have space for 13 riders at a time, though there are plans to expand.
“We are looking to purchase a larger shuttle bus to transport more groups,” Adams said. “That’s something we are working on for the future.”
For more information, please call 877-275-2989, visit unitedfronttransportationservices.com or like United Front Transportation Services on Facebook.