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River Parishes Tourist Commission to host regional summit on tourism: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser to headline closing session

LAPLACE – The River Parishes Tourist Commission will host the first River Region Tourism Summit from 1 – 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the St. John Community Center. Members of the public, local business owners, elected officials, hospitality and tourism stakeholders as well as regional tourism agencies are invited to attend.

Interested parties are asked to register at visitnopc.com/SUMMIT/ at no charge until Friday, Sept. 13 (After the deadline, a $25 registration fee will be charged). There is also no charge to attend the pre-event Investment Grant workshop (at noon, see information below) or the Taste of Tourism event after the Summit.

The Summit will feature two educational tracks: Sales/Marketing and Destination Development. The Sales/Marketing Track will focus on helping partners understand the sales process, packaging for group travel, working with the RTPC, and social media. The Destination Development Track will offer presentations on historic preservation, case studies on creating historic districts, why a strong tourism organization is vital to a region’s success, and strategies on showcasing stories through video. The complete schedule of speakers will be released on Monday.

The Summit will close with a general session featuring Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and RPTC Executive Director Buddy Boe discussing the importance of tourism in the state and region.

Following the Summit, the RPTC’s annual “Taste of Tourism” will be held and the entire region is invited to attend. The first annual River Region Leadership in Tourism Awards will be presented by the head of the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Doug Bourgeois, and RPTC Chairman, Peggy Joseph.

Prior to the Summit, an invitation-only workshop will be held to review the results of the DestinationNEXT survey that was recently conducted of the entire region. Also, anyone who is interested in applying for the new River Region Tourism Investment Grant, which launches this week, is required to attend a workshop which begins at noon, one hour prior to the Summit.

“We’re excited to host such amazing sessions and events that will teach us so much about being a better destination and improving the visitor experience. As the Chairman, this event does it all – increases community engagement, improves our strengths, and highlights the great things going on throughout the River Parishes,” said Peggy Joseph, Chairman of the RPTC.

The Summit is being co-hosted by facility sponsor, St. John the Baptist Parish Economic Development.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE INVESTMENT GRANT: A new grant program called the River Parishes Tourism Investment Grant is underway. The grant program is designed to incentivize and support new and existing festivals and special events to enhance and grow the visitor experience in the River Parishes.

In August, the Tourist Commission voted unanimously to approve the new program which includes an award for marketing funds and a separate award for special event funding.
“The River Parishes Tourism Investment Grant will provide opportunities for us to make strategic investments to help our partners promote their events for residents and visitors to enjoy and experience,” said Buddy Boe, Executive Director of the River Parishes Tourist Commission.
The Investment Grant provides for events to apply for up to $2,000 in marketing assistance funding that requires a 1:1 match and the use of the River Parishes Tourism Investment Grant logo in all marketing materials, a new requirement.

Also, separate funds allow for new or proposed visitor experiences and events to apply for up to $6,000 in expense support. Organizations can apply for one or both funding opportunities.

The Investment Grant provides that the review committee has the authority to fund all, none, or part of a request based on the strength of the application and funding availability.
The application can be found at visitnopc.com/grant.

As a reminder, the mandatory workshop for those interested will be held at noon on Sept. 17 at the St. John Community Center, before the River Region Tourism Summit kicks off at 1 p.m.
“By having a consistent, transparent annual process that is open to the community, we hope to increase the number of applicants and develop new and exciting experiences throughout our region,” said Boe.