Tourism in Vermilion Parish took a big hit after the deep water horizon explosion. Now, five years after the BP oil spill, tourism is better than ever.
“We just recorded some of our best numbers ever. Our total visitation was close to 50,000,” said Alison Miller, Tourist Commission Executive Director.
Miller said before the oil spill visitation numbers were around 15,000 and after the spill, numbers dropped down to half of that. She said BP gave the tourist commission $1.5 million in grant money for marketing. “Over the past three years we’ve placed over a hundred print ads. We did some great videos on our parish. We also redesigned our website and made it mobile friendly.”
Bed and Breakfast owners said they have personally experienced the boost in tourism. Apartment “A” Bed and Breakfast Owner, Debbie Garrot, said she’s seen a huge jump in guests. “The monies were used in such a positive way and have increased business. It’s brought to me in the last year in a half, I would say that my business has increased probably 100, 150 percent.”
The seafood industry is one of the biggest attractions in the parish. Dianna Ducote, Owner of Ducote-Williams Bed and Breakfast, said the food was a big concern for tourists. “I think they were more afraid of anything of the food. You know they’re known for their seafood in Abbeville especially then I do a big old breakfast. They were just hesitant. Fresh seafood is great if it’s fresh and not full of oil.”
Miller said the marketing money helped to get the word out that the seafood was safe. “What could have been a very tragic event on the PR side actually turned out to be great so BP stepped up so the rest is history.”
Miller said now that the grants have ended, they’re now relying on more traditional means of marketing to bring visitors to the parish.