Locals encouraged to celebrate people, businesses that make tourism work

Doug Rogers, Beaux Hays, and Aaron “Peanut” Hanning are just a few of the restauranteurs and business owners in the East Bank District. When the pandemic struck, they showed care for their community, compassion for their employees and continuous clever tactics to survive when the future of dining became dim.

Brandy Evans | Special to BIZ. Magazine

Tourism is unlike any other industry. It isn’t a behemoth of a factory cranking out widgets or oil derricks dredging up oil. Tourism is a clean industry that brings people in and out of Shreveport-Bossier. These visitors come for a good time and leave a trail of sales taxes at hotels, casinos, restaurants, shops, gas stations, and other local businesses.

May 2-8, 2021, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau invites locals to support National Travel and Tourism Week, a nationwide movement organized by the U.S. Travel Association.

This is an annual tradition that unites communities across the country to celebrate the value that travel holds for the economy, businesses, and well-being of cities like Shreveport-Bossier.

“This year, unlike any before, it is important to recognize and support the hospitality and tourism industry in our own backyard,” said Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “Prior to the pandemic, we estimated approximately 2.6 million people from across the country flocked to our cities to enjoy gaming, festivals, food, and entertainment. We have a chance to work together to bring those people back and continue the economic impact they have on our community.”

The locals who work in hotels, casinos, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, and other tourism-related businesses are the bedrock and cornerstone of tourism in Shreveport-Bossier.

This year the Tourist Bureau plans to honor those hardworking people at its renamed Excellence in Hospitality Awards, 6 p.m., Thursday, May 9 at the LeBossier Hotel & Event Center in Bossier City. The event will look different this year because of COVID restrictions, but the goal is to honor and celebrate those who have endured one of the most traumatic years in tourism.

There will also be a marketing push to encourage locals to explore attractions with discounts starting May 2. Many of Shreveport-Bossier’s attractions are small non-profits. They took huge financial losses being closed for two months in 2020 during the national stay-at-home order. This campaign is meant to increase awareness with locals, who are looking for fun, family-friendly activities. Local attractions can benefit from the increased foot traffic. 

Robin Jones, executive director for the Bossier Arts Council and president of the Shreveport-Bossier Attractions Association, emphasizes the importance of locals supporting the people and places that make our community so special and believes that residents are vested in the collective community’s future. 

“We support artists, as well as the community as a whole, by providing cultural programming, artist opportunities, and outreach activities,” she said. “These types of activities create culture, stimulate business, and drive tourism.”

If you know someone who makes tourism better because they provide excellent service at your favorite restaurant, attraction, boutique shop, casino, bar, or tourism-related business, please nominate them for an Excellence and Hospitality Award by visiting www.Shreveport-Bossier.org/awards.