April 25 2011 | Latest NewsBATON ROUGE -- Regional tourists from Texas to Florida are more open to visiting Louisiana in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill than tourists from elsewhere in the nation, according to a survey released this week by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne's office.
Tourists from Gulf South are less daunted by spill
Poll shows skepticism on seafood elsewhere
Friday, April 22, 2011
By Ed Anderson
BATON ROUGE -- Regional tourists from Texas to Florida are more open to visiting Louisiana in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill than tourists from elsewhere in the nation, according to a survey released this week by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne's office.
"People still have the perception of that oily pelican," Dardenne said Thursday, referring to the iconic images of the state bird drenched in crude from the spewing well in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago. "We have to spend money to get the word out about the safety of our seafood and attractions (and) that we are continuing on the right track."
Dardenne, who as secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism has been meeting with national media to promote Louisiana, said the state will launch a new ad campaign in the coming weeks highlighting tourism attractions and the "quality of seafood" caught in offshore waters.
A consultant report done for the department indicated that 42 percent of the tourists in the region are likely to visit Louisiana for "leisure or pleasure" in the next 12 months, compared with 18 percent in national markets.
The study was conducted by Market Dynamics Research Group of New Orleans between March 17 and March 23 among individuals who are at least 25 years old and live in a household where the income is at least $50,000.
Dardenne spokesman Jacques Berry said that a total of 1,509 individuals were surveyed, 753 in regional markets and 756 beyond. The regional market stretches roughly from San Antonio to the Florida Panhandle.
Berry said the survey is the fifth conducted to track tourists' perceptions on the effects of the oil spill. Two were done last year focusing on regional visitors and two on non-regional visitors.
The March survey showed that the percentage of likely regional visitors was the same as the percentage reported in September, and up 4 points from 38 percent last June, in the middle of the spill.
Although 18 percent of the national tourists said they intended to visit Louisiana in the next year, that is almost unchanged from the 17 percent in May 2010 and 19 percent in August.
One year after the spill, almost 55 percent of those in the regional market feel the accident is less damaging to the state than Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, compared with 31 percent last June.
The study said that 45 percent of the regional travelers feel the effects of the oil spill will linger in Louisiana for two to five years, up from 42 percent in September, while 19 percent said they think it will affect the state for five to 10 years, up from 18 percent in September.
Another 11 percent said it will linger for more than 10 years, down from 15 percent in the fall study.
Among non-regional tourists, 44 percent said they think the effects will be felt in Louisiana for two to five years, up from 41 percent in the August study; 24 percent said they feel the state will be affected for five to 10 years, compared with 20 percent in August.
Although concerns about seafood caught in Louisiana "have declined considerably," the report said, they "continue to inhibit travel to the state."
About 80 percent of the non-regional tourists still feel Louisiana-grown oysters are contaminated, compared with 88 percent in August.
Among regional tourists, Dardenne said, the seafood safety message is better received: 69 percent feel oysters are contaminated, compared with 81 percent in September.
To address the national concerns, Dardenne said the state plans to purchase air time promoting its recovery and its seafood on the History Channel, the Food Network and the Travel Channel.
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Ed Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 225.342.5810.