Officials: Baton Rouge 2014 tourism numbers are "historic"

Officials: Baton Rouge 2014 tourism numbers are 'historic'

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In the business of marketing and promoting Baton Rouge, Visit Baton Rouge officials called 2014 a "historic year" in terms tourism.

President and CEO Paul Arrigo says huge events like Bayou Country Superfest, the Miss USA pageant and TV and film productions brought in $4.5 million from hotel tax revenues alone, that of course doesn't count the huge boost in sales taxes collected on things people bought when they stayed in Baton Rouge.

"While 2014 was great, we're already working hard to keep the momentum going this year," Arrigo said.

"Consumer confidence is up across the country, which is an indication that more people will travel this year."

But the outlook in Louisiana isn't as bright and pretty against the backdrop of huge and in some cases historic budget cuts looming on the horizon in the state.

The state has to plug a $1.6 billion budget hole and cuts from this year alone are already affecting state tourism efforts.

The Lieutenant Governor office, mainly in charge of state tourism, has already absorbed $3.5 million in cuts this year and expect deeper cuts to come in the next fiscal year.

The state parks took a $1.5 million cut and have had to lay off 106 employees, a third of which were full time.

Officials also will close three state historic sites including Fort Pike, the Plaquemine Locks and one in Marksville.

Part of a $1.2 million cut came from a spring marketing campaign.

Despite the cuts, local tourism folks are optimistic.

"As a citizen and a marketer of this area of course I'm concerned. The impact the cuts will have to the state and the colleges and universities, but I don't think it will have a direct impact on our efforts," Arrigo said.

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