Louisiana tourism ad campaign subject of dispute

February 21 2011 | Latest News
February 18, 2011
BY: The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and the Jindal administration are at odds over a $4 million tourism campaign Dardenne wants to launch this spring to market Louisiana to potential visitors.

The dispute between Dardenne and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Paul Rainwater, was put before lawmakers today in a meeting of the joint budget committee.

Dardenne, who oversees state tourism efforts, is pushing to get $4 million in his budget reallocated to a new advertising campaign called “Pick Your Passion.” He said the marketing bid must begin within weeks to take advantage of the summer traveling season.

Tourism is a $9.3 billion industry in Louisiana, but Dardenne said the industry was hard hit by the Gulf oil spill and people need to be reassured about visiting the state.

“We desperately need to be able to spend this money now to have this tourism campaign. We have a perception problem,” Dardenne said.

Rainwater said the administration supports the marketing effort and wants to get the funding to Dardenne.

“I think we can work it out internally, and I just need more time to do it and I need to figure out the dollars,” he said.

Committee members said they supported Dardenne’s request, but can’t rework the tourism budget without Rainwater’s approval. They encouraged Rainwater to get Dardenne the money quickly.

At issue is whether Dardenne can tap into tax dollars dedicated to state tourism efforts or whether those dollars will be held over until the next fiscal year.

Rainwater said Dardenne could use marketing dollars given to the state by BP PLC, but Dardenne questioned whether he would get that money from the oil company soon enough to start the ad campaign.

Rainwater said he hopes to work out the matter within a week.