"We're really trending very much in the right direction with people wanting to see Louisiana, visit Louisiana."

That's what La. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who oversees tourism in the state, had to say when he was asked about the honor from the Southeast Tourism Society. "It's really reflective of what we've been doing to promote Louisiana over the course of the past two years with our 'Pick Your Passion' brand," says Dardenne.

Dardenne says the honor, from peers in the tourism industry, makes a nice topper to a terrific, but very active year. "We had the Super Bowl, and we had the Celebration of the Year of Music and as we move into next year and start ramping up for more sporting events that are on the horizon and for a big, big Mardi Gras season...And this is kind of the icing on the cake for 2013."

Dardenne says Louisiana is more popular as a travel destination with the nation, and the rest of the world, than it has ever been. "The popularity of these reality TV shows, 'Duck Dynasty' and 'Swamp People' in particular, have people fascinated with the authenticity they can experience when they come to Louisiana."