Over the years, Vermilion Parish has overcome several devastating hurricanes, the BP oil spill and is currently navigating through the COVID Pandemic. With each situation, the Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission has had to figure out how to market the parish to attract visitors and let them know that they can travel to the parish and experience “the Most Cajun Place on Earth.”
“With hurricanes, you know that once the storm has passed you can assess the damage, see when businesses will be back open and start getting the word out that it’s safe to travel here,” stated Alison Miller, Vermilion Parish Tourism Director. “When the BP Oil Spill happened, it was totally different. The national media made it seem that all of south Louisiana was covered in oil, that no one should travel to our state and that our seafood was not safe to eat. Joining with other coastal Louisiana tourism bureaus, our marketing efforts were to tell the nation that south Louisiana was still open for visitors and our seafood was safe to eat.”
In March 2020, the Tourist Commission faced a completely different challenge. “Most people in the tourism industry were at a loss because we had not experienced anything like COVID before. We were not sure how long things were going to stay shut down, how long the pandemic was going to last, when would it be safe to travel or how should we proceed with our marketing.”
With less people traveling to our parish, the less revenue the Parish received and like many businesses in the parish, tourism revenue was down nearly 40 percent. The Tourist Commission closed its doors for two months, something that had not been done before.
With most festivals and events cancelled and many attractions not open, the Tourist Commission focused their marketing in a slightly different way. “We created a new advertising campaign and redesigned our website. We pulled several ads that were scheduled to run in the summer and relied on social media to keep people informed of what was open for business and what events were rescheduled or cancelled. We also took advantage of discounted advertising in New Orleans and Baton Rouge publications to get the day-trippers to travel here.” Although actual visitation was down, website users, phone calls, emails and other requests for information was in-line with 2019 figures.”
Originally published by Vermilion Today, 4/6/21
Now that the State has entered Phase 3, the Tourist Commission has seen a slight increase in visitors coming into the Center for information.
“As businesses are starting reopen at a larger capacity and more people are becoming vaccinated, we are optimistic that tourism will finish 2021 strong.”
Miller is excited to see that most of the Parish’s festivals have announced their return for the Fall of 2021. “With the fall festivals returning and people wanting to attend these events, it should bring in much needed revenue for our parish.”