Black Meetings and Tourism

JAN/FEB 2012

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AREA GUIDES LOUISIANA VISITATION TO BAYOU STATE MAKING STRONG COMEBACK BY SOLOMON J. HERBERT ll In light of the oil spill, Louisiana Office of Tourism is reminding the world of Louisiana's unique culture, phenome- nal seafood, rich musical history and pristine outdoors. While parts of the state have been affected, the majority of Louisiana remains an ideal travel desti- nation for amazing experiences. Each year, the state hosts 24.1 million visitors. When you make a list of all the unique things Louisiana has to offer vis- itors, you quickly see the long-lasting influences of the French, Spanish and African ancestry. The state's past is well preserved in the architecture, music, food and lifestyles – which include amazing festivals – and of course in museums of history and fine arts. It is not an accident that Louisiana clings to the phrase: "Laissez les bon temps rouler." Let yourself get lost in the traditions passed down through gen- erations. Come visit during Mardi Gras when costumed riders parade and mag- nificent balls are thrown from New Orleans and Baton Rouge to Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport and beyond. Tourism means economic gains for Louisiana. It contributes to the overall quality of life for Louisiana residents, by creating fun and educational things to see, do and experience in one's own backyard. It encourages the preserva- tion of natural, historic and cultural attractions for future generations. It sus- tains a community's image as not only a desirable place to visit, but also a great place to call home. BATON ROUGE Baton Rouge is home to the renowned action of LSU and SU athlet- ics, legendary Louisiana Cajun cuisine, a booming filmand television industry, fas- cinating plantation tours, Mardi Gras thrills, family-friendly festivals and a variety of attractions, events the whole family can enjoy. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Baton Rouge River Center expansion has completely transformed downtown Baton Rouge. The entire complex, including the exist- ing Arena and Theatre for the Performing Arts, as well as the new Exhibition Hall, includes more than 200,000 sq. ft. of new and renovated space, and incorporates state-of-the-art Lights! Camera! Action! exhibition, meeting, concession and kitchen facilities. The new 70,000-sq. ft. Exhibition Hall can be combined with the existing Arena to create more than 100,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space. Baton Rouge River Center Baton Rouge is known for its south- ern hospitality and it shows with hotels offering top-level service as well as plen- ty of meeting space for your next event. Conference attendees can explore the city and delve into some of it's many rich cultured activities. Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge is an annual celebration attended by thousands each year who join in and experience the excitement and fun filled family activities that are hosted in Baton Rouge. The capital city offers a variety of parades that have become a favorite city among families celebrating Mardi Gras. For nearly 15 years now the Baton Rouge Blues Festival has been held locally. It's a one-day celebration of the Blues that culminates Baton Rouge Blues week. While in Baton Rouge Conference attendees can explore the African American Museum, dedicated to collect- ing, preserving, and interpreting art, arti- 58 Black Meetings & Tourism January/February 2012: Photo Credit: Baton Rouge CVB

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