'Glamping' gives visitors new way to experience Louisiana's state parks
BATON ROUGE - Dwayne Becnel brought his family to the shady oaks of Fontainebleau State Park to experience the outdoors.
“We wanted to kind of get back into nature, you know, with everything that is going on with COVID and everything,” Becnel said. “That generation is so much into YouTube and technology.”
Old school camping was not a choice for Becnel and his three children, but Louisiana State Parks offer another option: “glamping”.
“It’s pretty convenient,” Becnel said.
Glamping mixes hotel comfort with camping, allowing the Becnels to enjoy a comfortable weekend under the stars.
“We actually made our breakfast doing the real camping thing with the cast iron skillet and the propane tank,” Becnel said.
Louisiana State Parks began offering “glamping” to visitors through a partnership with a New York business, Tentrr.
Tentrr provides a canvas-walled structure with a padded bed, latrine and more. With this partnership, the department created a new clientele for the parks.
“We opened up a whole market of people who don’t normally use our sites,” said Louisiana State Parks Director, Brandon Burris.
Nature-based tourism is one of the fastest growing in the country following the onset of the pandemic.
Louisiana’s expansion with Tentrr impacted the tourism industry, increasing in and out-of-state visitors.
“It went dramatically to 95% in-state during the pandemic,” Burris said. “Even that, our numbers grew. We had the best year we’ve had in 10 years, 26% higher than the year before.”
The partnership has brought in $100,000 in six months.
“Every month continues to grow,” Burris said.
Burris expects the other 12 state parks to upgrade their accommodations as well.
“We added two new state parks in addition to that already. So we are at nine total state parks,” Burris said. “There’s a little over 80 sites, and there’s already talk about adding another wave.”
And the Becnel’s plan to return to escape their bustling, city life.
“In my opinion, it’s the closest thing to the real thing,” Becnel said.
Burris said that the sites stay booked every weekend, costing about $300 for a weekend stay.
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