At the end of each year, it is time for the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission to reflect on the year's accomplishments and determine the objectives for the New Year.
As we reviewed 2011, there were many major events and activities that were significant in making 2011 another outstanding year for tourism in Webster Parish.
In 2009 and 2010, the local hotel/motel occupancy taxes, which fund our commission, were deceivingly high due to pipeline construction in our immediate area.
Presently, pipeline construction in Webster Parish is basically complete and the inflated occupancy rates of last year have diminished.
Our goal for 2011 was to be proactive, in effort to maintain the rate of tax collections of the previous year. Our strategy for accomplishing that goal was to continue to support our local events through a marketing campaign throughout a 300 mile radius.
Additionally, we continued reinvesting a portion of our hotel/motel tax collections in a national and regional advertising campaign that provided our parish the opportunity to reach out and attract new visitors from surrounding states and other parts of Louisiana.
We focused our print advertising on our target market, women 45 to 65, who are interested in historic tourism and males 35 to 55, who are outdoor sportsmen.
We renewed our contract with BASS Pro Homer Humphreys as our spokesman for Webster Parish; representing us at fishing tournaments, on television and at outdoor trade shows.
We applied for and received funding from a Tourism Recovery Grant from British Petroleum to establish a new billboard on Interstate 20 focused on "nature based" tourism utilizing the recent "Discover Our Good Nature" branding developed by The Farley Group for the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission.
This new billboard will be seen by over 50,000 cars passing per day as they cross the Louisiana state line from Texas.
With the assistance of a 2011 Louisiana Office of Tourism Cooperative Advertising Grant, the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission was able to continue to advertise in national and regional publications including Southern Living Magazine, AAA Southern Traveler, AAA Texas Journeys, and Outdoor Life Magazine. This allowed us to continue to promote the wonderful things that Webster Parish has to offer to over 3 million people outside our immediate vicinity.
For example, this year we received over 2,600 requests for information on Webster Parish as a result of our advertisements in Southern Living Magazine. We also received over 150 information requests from AAA Magazines with advertisements targeting Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and outside our immediate vicinity in Louisiana.
These leads provided us the opportunity to mail our parish brochure and additional information directly to the potential visitor.
Looking back at this year, many major events and activities transpired to make 2011 another outstanding year for tourism in Webster Parish. Here are some that are noteworthy:
Worked with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Minden to get Minden, along with Alexandria and Monroe, added to the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights for the first time in 2011. Assisted with media luncheons in Monroe, Shreveport, and Alexandria in August promoting this outstanding opportunity for tourism in Webster Parish.
Worked with the Village of Dixie Inn to light up the Bayou Dorcheat old Highway 80 Bridge this Christmas. Plans are being made to get more lights added along the banks in Dixie Inn in 2012.
With the sponsorship and outstanding assistance of Carter Federal Credit Union, hosted a ribbon cutting event at the new Doerge Landing boat launch between Springhill and Shongaloo. With the attendance of more than 60 guests including media, this event was another terrific opportunity for publicity about the development of Bayou Dorcheat as a major tourism attraction for Webster Parish.
Developed and placed advertisements in over 25 major publications.
Developed and placed advertisements promoting major Webster Parish tourism related events in newspapers across north Louisiana though the Louisiana Newspaper Association.
Produced radio commercials on two major radio channels (98 ROCKS and 95.7 FM) out of Shreveport for major events.
Currently, working with the Secretary of State Museum System to install "way showing" (directional) signage for the Germantown Colony Museum.
Guest speaker for:
The Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society at Centenary College in Shreveport
Lions Club in Homer with over 65 in attendance
LSU Agriculture and University of Mississippi "Paddling and Canoeing Workshop" in Monroe
Noon Lions Club in Minden several times
Represented Webster Parish at Trade Shows:
Lt. Governor's Nature Based Tourism Summit in Lafayette with Homer Humphreys in January.
Outdoor Expo Trade Show in Lafayette with Homer Humphreys in July.
Dallas Morning News Travel Show in Dallas in November.
Happy New Year from the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission.