Tourism officials say Baton Rouge gearing up for very busy summer

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Back-to-back events means lots of eyes and even more money spent here in Baton Rouge. Bayou Country Superfest later in May and then the Miss USA pageant in June. The city's visitors bureau says this will be one of Baton Rouge's busiest summers in years.

The downtown trolley and the old Governor's Mansion are just a few of the sights that people around the area are used to seeing. But everyday discovering the make up of the city is a new adventure for tourists.

"Rode the trolley and been walking around, find some place to eat lunch and enjoy the city," said Paul North of Seattle, Washington. He and his wife, Zanarda were in Baton Rouge on Monday, one of the stops on their cruise along the Mississippi River.

Officials with Visit Baton Rouge, say there are a couple ships that dock here for the day several times a month.

Tourism has meant gains for the local economy. Visit Baton Rouge says last year, 2.3 million people visited Baton Rouge and made a one-point-four billion dollar impact.

"We've got an opportunity to show Baton Rouge as the tremendous city that it is," said Paul Arrigo, the President and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge.

Starting Memorial Day weekend, the city will be busy, Arrigo says, through the end of summer. That's when the 5th Bayou Country Superfest (BCS) begins. Instead of the usual Saturday and Sunday concerts, this year they've added a third day to the line-up. Arrigo says Live After Five was also moved to Thursday of that week.

In the past, he says, Superfest has equalled big bucks.

"In the past, somewhere between 25-30 million dollars in direct spending. So we have to anticipate at least that much."

Right after the BCS, Miss USA contestants start arriving for the pageant on June 8. With lots of national and international attention, Arrigo says Baton Rouge will be highlighted as a must see destination.

Then, just 10 days after that, the city will host 20,000 people for one week, for the U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Championship. That will include teams from several southern states and up to North Carolina.

With the events planned, Baton Rouge stands to outshine another well talked about city in Louisiana.

"Even as I was walking this morning, I said, I even like Baton Rouge a little bit better than New Orleans," said North.

Visit Baton Rouge also wants locals to help out. They've created a keychain that they want residents to use in pictures of things that represent the area. They'll be selecting winners from all the pictures they get. You could win giftcards, dinner or event tickets.

You can pick up a keychain at Visit Baton Rouge on Third Street.

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