By Alison Miller, Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission Executive Director
Each year, the Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission (VPTC) compiles tourism figures and compares these numbers to previous years to measure how tourism is doing in the parish.
Due to the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order, which was issued a year ago, the Tourist Center was closed from March to May 2020 resulting in a loss of visitation. With less people traveling to the parish, the Commission also suffered a loss of revenue, as most businesses did during this time.
VPTC is solely funded through a two percent occupancy tax on parish accommodations to operate the Tourist Center and market the parish as a tourist destination. Although starting the first quarter of 2020 at 40% below anticipate revenue, 2020 occupancy tax revenue was over $65,300 (27% percent increase over 2019). This increase was due largely to the hurricanes that hit Southwest Louisiana last fall with evacuees staying in our accommodations.
According to official tourism figures, VPTC had a total of 15,303 inquiries for 2020. This figure represents 553 visitors stopping in the Center for information; 302 call-ins; 5,522 website requests and information downloads; 8,926 requests from e-mail and ads placed in regional and national publications. Walk-in visitors included people from all over the United States, Canada, France and Mexico. Over 207,000 people visited the tourism website in 2020 and social media numbers continue to grow each year. Although actual visitation was down from 2,429 in 2019, phone calls, emails and other requests for information was in-line with 2019 figures.
To cover the majority of the marketing costs, VPTC applies for grants whenever possible. In early 2020, the Commission applied for and received over $17,000 from the Louisiana Office of Tourism (LOT) to help market the parish. In addition to this grant, VPTC received a $17,000 LOT Sunshine Grant in December to be used on advertising in the first half of 2021. In the Spring of 2020, a new marketing campaign was created in-house. Print and digital ads were placed in key locations within the state and in drive markets to entice visitors to our parish once things started to reopen.
VPTC is optimistic that tourism will finish 2021 strong as more things in our parish open for visitors and locals. The Tourist Center is starting to see visitors come in for information and the parish’s fall festivals are returning which should bring in much needed revenue for our parish.”
For more information or to request a copy of the 2020 Progress Report, contact VPTC at 898-6600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Tourist Commission office is located at 200 N. Magdalen Square in downtown Abbeville and is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Published in the Kaplan Herald, 3/28/21