Another high-ranking state official taking overseas trip
BATON ROUGE – State officials are once again taking to the sky for an overseas trip; this time, it's the Lt. Governor who traveled to France this week.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser's office released details of the trip Tuesday – two days into travel. Nungesser is traveling with tourism leaders and three legislators. The group left on January 29th and will return after a scheduled visit to Lyon, France, on February 2nd.
Nungesser's office said travel costs for him and his staff were $22,643. Others who traveled paid $1,500 to participate and had to cover their own airfare, accommodations and transportation.
The lieutenant governor, unlike the governor, does not travel with a police security detail.
Staff included: Lt. Gov. Nungesser, Deputy Secretary Rennie Buras, Deputy Communications Director Jessica Ragusa, tourism assistant secretary Kyle Edmiston, International Salesperson Mike Projean, Director of Scenic Byways Doug Bourgeois and Jessilee Simien of the Vinton Welcome Center.
Also traveling with the group:
Gregor Trumel, Consul General de France en Louisiane
Senator Karen Carter Peterson, (D) District 5, New Orleans
Dana Peterson, Husband of Sen. Karen Carter Peterson
Senator J.P. Morrell, (D) District 3, New Orleans
Senator Dan Claitor, (R) District 16, Baton Rouge
Mrs. Sharmaine Claitor, Wife of Sen. Dan Claitor
Jill Kidder, Louisiana Tourism Promotion Association CEO
Tracy Browning, Ascension Parish Tourist Commission Executive Director
Joseph Dunn, Laura Plantation
Paul Arrigo, Visit Baton Rouge Executive Director
Tracey Francis, Visit Baton Rouge Destination Sales Manager
Kevin Kelly, Houmas House Plantation
Tanya Leader, St. Tammany Tourism & Convention Commission Sales & Services Manager
Kim Priez, New Orleans CVB Vice President of Tourism
Megan Rayburn, New Orleans Plantation Country Tourism Sales Manager
Eric Edwards, Livingston Parish CVB Executive Director
Sharon Stam Moran, West Baton Rouge Parish CVB Executive Director
Eugenie Mitchell, Lafayette Travel Vice President of Tourism Sales
Lynette Tanner, Frogmore Plantation
Carla Tate, Tangipahoa CVB Executive Director
Laurie Walsh, West Feliciana Parish Tourist Commission Executive Director
Fred Werquin, Travelhost South Louisiana
As lieutenant governor, Nungesser oversees the state's tourism and cultural programs and is the chief advertiser and salesman for the state.
Nungesser said in a statement, his mission is vital to an increasing interest in travel to Louisiana from other countries.
“International visitation to our state has recently seen an increase of 37 percent. International visitors stay longer and spend more money. That is a win for the state as tourism in Louisiana brings a return on investment of $38 for every $1 spent,” the lieutenant governor said.
“France is one of Louisiana’s most important overseas markets. When looking at international visitors signing guest books at our Welcome Centers, French visitors top the list,” Edmiston added. “The French culture is a big part of the history of our state. Many people in France dream of being able to visit Louisiana. We are working to convince them to make that dream a reality.”
The state said the group has already met with tourism officials in France and discussed Louisiana's successful music festivals.
Later, the group is scheduled to meet with travel writers, tour operators and French media along with French elected officials.
The travel comes in the same month as a trip to Italy by Governor John Bel Edwards and concerns from lawmakers about dealing with another state budget deficit – this one a little more than $300 million – that must be taken care of before the summer.
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