After a record breaking 53.2 million people visited Louisiana in 2019 the state is scrambling to save the tourism industry.

The future of tourism is murky but Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser says this isn’t the first time we’ve weathered a storm and rebounded to set new records.

“We’ve been through Katrina, the oil spill, the 2016 floods that flooded 57 of 64 parishes. We’ve been through so many catastrophes and we have bounced back,” says Nungesser.

The 53.2 million was a four percent increase over 2018.

Nungesser says they’re pushing to resuscitate the industry as early as this winter. He says they’re reaching out groups that canceled their Louisiana vacations with an offer.

“What is it going to take to come to Louisiana? Do we have to provide Louisiana seafood for your first night party, maybe a local musician?” says Nungesser.

By the end of 2019, an estimated 242,000 people worked in Louisiana tourism. Nungesser says it is the fourth largest industry in the state.

Cities and parishes are cash strapped and Nungesser says to save major event tourism the Legislature needs to authorize more tourism assistance to local governments.

“If New Orleans needs money to host a WrestleMania or anything else, or Lafayette needs money, we want to make sure that we are putting money behind those events from a state level while they are struggling,” says Nungesser.

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)