Perception vs. reality for Livingston Parish tourism

Editor’s note: This is ta new column being introduced this month: Discover Livingston Parish attractions.
taylorfamilyFirst, I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Jonathan Taylor, most people know me as J.T. , and I am proud to be a life-long resident of Livingston Parish. I accepted the position of Assistant Director with the Livingston Parish Tourism office in 2013.
When I am asked what I do for a living and I tell people, especially residents of Livingston Parish, I usually get the same response, “Tourism? We have tourism in Livingston Parish?” I had a similar mindset several years ago, but boy has it changed since having the opportunity to work in this industry.
I recently completed my third and final year at Southeast Tourism Society (STS) Marketing College in Dahlonega, Georgia where I was able to meet people from all over the Southeast United States who work in travel and tourism. When talking about their destinations they had a sense of pride that was undeniable.
The more I listened I began to realize that we have more to offer than most of these destinations – yet we don’t have the same sense of pride when talking about Livingston Parish. Is it because of what we used to be, what others say about us, or how others perceive us? I think it’s a little bit of all of these things put together. But why should we let our past, or what others think about us, shape our future? The answer is we shouldn’t.
Most of the time when you hear “Only LP” or see #OnlyLP on social media outlets, it is used in a negative manner. When in reality, it’s not “Only LP”. Most of the time these things take place everywhere, but for some reason we think it just happens here. If you have trouble seeing some of the positive things Livingston has to offer, let me help you out:
Bass Pro Shops, Denham Springs – #1 Boat Sales and Fudge Chocolate Sales. Top 5 in U.S. in overall sales; shopping and tourist destination.
LIGO, town of Livingston – Received Nobel Prize in Science in 2017 for its direct detection of gravitational waves .
Tickfaw 200, Tickfaw River – #1 Power Boat Poker Run in the United States .
Parish waterways – Over 500 miles of navigable waterways.
Denham Springs Antiques Village – #1 Antique District in Louisiana, with numerous uniques shops and Old City Hall Museum and Visitors Center.
Prop Stop – Home of the Worm Bucket (had to throw this one in)
Culture – Largest Rural Hungarian Settlement in U.S. located in Albany, site of the new Hungarian Museum.
Public School System – Continues to be one of the top in Louisiana year after year.
Greystone Country Club and Carter Plantation golf – beautiful, highly rated golf courses
These are just a few of the reasons people enjoy living in and visiting Livingston Parish. I know there are many more, like our restaurants, shopping destinations, golf, public parks and sports facilities – I just don’t have enough room to name them all. We will highlight some of these and other attractions in coming months.
Here are a couple numbers that may surprise you. There were over 220,000 hotel rooms/RV spots sold in Livingston Parish in 2017, with an economic impact of over $100 million.
So referring back to what I usually hear when I tell people what I do for a living, “Tourism? We have tourism in Livingston Parish?” The answer is, yes we do, and it has a major economic impact on Livingston Parish.
Livingstontourism.com; email jt@livingstontourism.com
Pointe Coupee Parish Tourism group meets with Lt. Gov. Nungessor
Jeanie Andre, Director of the Pointe Coupee Parish Office of Tourism, and other representative from area parishes met with Lt. Gov. Nungessor Jan. 8 at the State Capital Annex to ask his assistance with these projects:
1. Revitalization of the Village Morganza as a nostalgic tourist attraction as a Cultural District.
2. Louisiana Hwy. 61 Blues Highway Trail; marking the spots for famous musicians & nightclubs along Louisiana’s Blues Hwy. 61 and highways in every parish where famous musicians and nightclubs exist across Louisiana, and possibly connecting to existing Mississippi Blues & Tennessee’s Blues Trails.
3. Kenny Neal Family & Friends Blues Hwy. 61 Music Festival which will be held at the West Feliciana Sports Park in St. Francisville May 18-20, 2018. This is still in the planning stages, and organizers are soliciting sponsors, musicians, food vendors, arts & Crafts, etc.
4. Marking the spot in Lettsworth where Buddy Guy was born and requesting that the street be named after him. Nungessor said he will make sure Louisiana properly commemorates and recognize Buddy Guy with a marker unveiling ceremony in the fall.