From the Publisher - March 2017
03/10/2017 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
If We Build It, They Will ComeBy Cherry Fisher May
If We Build It, They Will Come
Two new tourism initiatives are underway in our neighboring parishes that will benefit the entire Acadiana LifeStyle region. The Arnaudville renaissance continues with the resolution of ownership of long-abandoned St. Luke’s community hospital, which sits on the boundary of St. Landry and St. Martin parishes. The potential it holds as a French immersion school is based on a business plan funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and developed by the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation. Designed to attract students, educators, business people and visitors to an intimate setting to study French, it is an opportunity to enhance our region as a destination for cultural tourism.
In December, Louisiana Swamp Base, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Evangeline Area Boy Scouts, purchased McGee’s Landing. Perched on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin, the Henderson landmark will be developed into a gateway and operations center for the program, which has already earned its rank among a handful of high-adventure scouting destinations in the U.S. Since the program’s launch in 2013, more than 1,000 scouts have explored the Basin in six-day 61.6-mile canoe treks with 75 more miles in development. Ground will be broken soon for a $30-million expansion to include a lodging and conference facility, making Swamp Base a profit center for the local Boy Scout council and a new destination for the intrepid adventure traveler.
Cultural tourism and adventure travel—two of the most desirable and fastest growing segments of the international tourism market. These travelers have a high disposable income. They tend to stay for a longer duration and typically spend more money than the average tourist. They are also cultural explorers and like to sample a variety of restaurants, bars, music venues and other attractions. And they are respectful of the places they visit, leaving a ‘light footprint’ wherever they go.
As we slowly recover from the downturn in the energy sector, we are reminded that diversifying our economic portfolio is more important than ever. Projects like these will be a win-win for us all.