Tourism has always been a big part of New Orleans. What ideas do you have for helping the city rebuild its tourism industry?
Let me start by saying that the tourism of New Orleans wasn't the only area damaged by hurricanes. Rita was equally devastating to Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion Parishes. The answer to this is quite clear, we have to introduce the rest of the state to the country and the world. The city of New Orleans is important to the state and must be rebuilt, but there is the rest of the state to be sold while reconstruction continues in the Southeast. We have something unique to offer in every section of the state, but people inside the state don't know about these treasures, much less people outside the state. We need to give people a reason to visit Louisiana, not just New Orleans. We need people to feel that there is more to see and do here. They will come to see New Orleans, but also venture to other parts of the state.
Answer this question as if it were asked by someone outside the state: Why should I spend my tourism dollars in Louisiana?
Because there is no other state in the country like it. We can split the state in seven regions and not one region is like the other. This state has something for everyone, much of which is undiscovered by visitors from other states. I look forward to introducing these unique attractions to millions of people from all walks of life.
What tourism initiatives do you have planned to increase tourism in North Louisiana beyond people coming here to gamble at the casinos?
The first thing I would do is begin an initiative to bring people to North Louisiana as the unknown jewel of the Sportsman's Paradise. I would focus on the lakes and natural diversity of North Louisiana and begin selling the message that this should be an outdoorsman's top destination for hunting and fishing.
There is also big money in tourism linked to movie production and filming. With so many films being produced here and Shreveport garnering the moniker Hollywood South, it's time to capitalize on this and make a tourist destination point that allows them to tour the sites that have been used for set locations.
I also want to target both Northeast and Northwest Louisiana as sites for new Louisiana music festivals, modeled after the famed Jamboree in the Hills that takes place every year in Ohio. We will identify two sites that can hold upwards of 100,000 people per day. These events would attract top name entertainment and bring millions of dollars into the surrounding communities.
These are just some of the plans I have for North Louisiana. I truly believe North Louisiana's has limitless potential for tourism development.
The current office holder has used his office as a strong proponent of Social Entrepreneurism. Will the effort continue with you as Lt Governor, will it increase or will it decline?
I do believe the volunteerism is important and would actually like to see it linked to programs that could even further benefit the state. I want to look at a way to link this to retirees and hope that a volunteer incentive plan for this generation would be a start in attracting them to Louisiana instead of neighboring states.