JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Frogmore Plantation owner Buddy Tanner, left, walks with Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne as they enter St. James Baptist Church on the grounds of Frogmore Plantation on Tuesday, the first day of Dardenne's statewide tour marking National Travel and Tourism week.
JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Frogmore Plantation owner Buddy Tanner, left, walks with Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne as they enter St. James Baptist Church on the grounds of Frogmore Plantation on Tuesday, the first day of Dardenne's statewide tour marking National Travel and Tourism week.

Lt. Governor touts state tourism at Frogmore

Published 12:02am Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FERRIDAY — Tourism is a serious business.

It’s so serious that Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne wrapped a bus with the message that tourism is a $10.7 billion business for the state and took it on a statewide tour.

JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, right, speaks to a crowd gathered during his visit to Frogmore Plantation on Tuesday, the first day of his statewide tour marking National Travel and Tourism week.
JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, right, speaks to a crowd gathered during his visit to Frogmore Plantation on Tuesday, the first day of his statewide tour marking National Travel and Tourism week.

Dardenne stopped at Frogmore Plantation Tuesday evening as part of that tour, which coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week.

Louisiana saw its highest rate of tourism ever in 2012, taking in $10.7 billion, $665 million of which was in direct taxable revenue, Dardenne said.

“Tourism is an industry, and a lot of people don’t see it that way, but we do — tourism is a business,” Dardenne said. “This is a giver, not a taker, for revenue.”

People want authenticity, Dardenne said, and Louisiana provides that.

JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, left, listens as Frogmore Plantation owner Lynette Tanner speaks to a crowd gathered during Dardenne's visit to the historic site on Tuesday, the first day of his statewide tour.
JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, left, listens as Frogmore Plantation owner Lynette Tanner speaks to a crowd gathered during Dardenne’s visit to the historic site on Tuesday, the first day of his statewide tour.

“We have a unique blend of cultures, and people appreciate our ability to preserve the past and plan for the future,” he said.

The lieutenant governor said he is asking everyone to be ambassadors for Louisiana tourism. Frogmore Plantation owner Lynette Tanner said that can be done in a number of ways.

“It is so important for all of us to take part, even if it is only giving directions or keeping our property clean,” she said.

But even beyond trying to bring outsiders in, Dardenne said he is encouraging Louisiana residents to take time for themselves to appreciate the state’s various cultures and historical offerings.

“Take a look at your own state and see your own state,” he said. “When I am in south Louisiana, I tell people there is life above I-10, and when I am in the north I tell people New Orleans is not the enemy.”

“We (all) understand the importance of history, culture and preservation of family.”

JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, center, speaks to a crowd during a visit to Frogmore Plantation on Tuesday, the first day of his statewide tour marking National Travel and Tourism week.
JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, center, speaks to a crowd during a visit to Frogmore Plantation on Tuesday, the first day of his statewide tour marking National Travel and Tourism week.

Former Secretary of State Al Ater — now a businessman and farmer — said Frogmore is a perfect example of how preserving the area’s cultural history can become a tourism draw. When the Tanners first told him of their plans to turn Frogmore into a tourist attraction, Ater said he had no vision for a successful future there.

“I was wrong,” he said. “Now I have people from Australia and Germany and all over knocking at my door because they came to the wrong (cotton) gin.”

Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen said that Ferriday is proud of its well-known musical heritage, but that it has more to offer to visitors.

“People come from all over the country to see the history at the Delta Music Museum, and we have all the hunting and fishing you can want,” Allen said.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the key to successful tourism efforts is to think regionally.

“This entire area is the Miss-Lou,” Copeland said. “We can work with our Natchez neighbors, and our goal is to improve tourism throughout the region.”