Lafayette, St. Martin and other parishes are part of the group, which includes St. Martin Parish Tourism Commission Director Dona Richard.
They’ll return Friday, Richard said this past Monday.
“It’s all about perceptions,” Richard said. “We need to get the word out that we’re not affected by the oil spill, that we’re not covered with oil, and basically to get out the Louisiana message that we’re ready for business.”
She and others, such as Lafayette Visitors and Convention Center leader Gerald Breaux, will speak with major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal in an effort to quell the bad reputation this state is getting from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil explosion and gusher, which has been effectively capped.
People far away, however, may have a different view. Is shrimp oiled up? No. Are the shores here covered with a gooey muck? No. And that’s especially true of St. Martin, which lies miles from the coast.
“When we were in Oregon (for an RV-travel convention) last week, I got more questions about Katrina than the oil spill,” Richard said. “The Houma-Terrebone-Lafourche booths were inundated with oil-spill questions. In 2005, we were still dealing with Hurricane Katrina and that perception, but so far, our parish has been OK.”
However, this trip should ensure, or begin to sort out, that the misperceptions are false. Even in Oregon, some people spouted “snide” comments, Richard said. They aren’t funny and they aren’t true, she noted.
Breaux is part of that number.
“This mission is many-folded, that the Louisiana Office of Tourism’s perception surveys indicate that Louisiana is really not ready for tourism yet,” Breaux said last week. “That’s a geographic misconception. We know there’s not a bunch of beaches to go to down here, but another one is that our swamp tours are not ready to receive tourists.”
And that’s wrong, “because our swamps are not in the Gulf of Mexico,” Breaux said. “Another is that our seafood is tainted. We’re trying to dispel that perception, too.”