Louisiana Open for Business Despite Oil SpillMay 26, 2010 By: George Dooley
The Louisiana Office of Tourism, along with other state and federal government agencies and private sector entities, continues to work together to monitor the impact of the oil spill and cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau reports. Special events are on schedule despite the ongoing crisis.
“Everyone is aware of the BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast,” a bureau spokesman said. This is a catastrophic event that will have long-lasting consequences. The Shreveport-Bossier area in northwest Louisiana, as well as most of the rest of our state, is largely unaffected by the spill. Many people are under the mistaken impression that the entire state is experiencing the impact of the spill. This is just not true. We still want and need visitors to our state.”
Much of the Louisiana Gulf Coast is unaffected by the oil spill and remains open for commercial and recreational fishing, the bureau said. All nine Louisiana coastal parishes (counties) continue to offer travelers historic and cultural attractions, world-acclaimed indigenous food and music, and notable restaurants and overnight accommodations.
The primary affected area is around the mouth of the Mississippi River in the southeast region of Louisiana. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast maps identify an "area of uncertainty" that extends around the origin of the spill.
“The nation has been so supportive of Louisiana over the years,” said Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “One of the most helpful things people can do for Louisiana is to continue to visit the state and enjoy all of our cultural attractions, festivals and events.”
The Louisiana Office of Tourism reports that affected coastal areas, as well as areas of uncertainty, have been closed to fishing by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in portions of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes.
Over a dozen patrol boats spread among several popular St. Bernard Parish waterways found no evidence of oil Monday, parish officials announced today. St. Bernard is the easternmost of Louisiana’s coastal parishes. Waterways inspected Monday remain open for recreational and commercial fishing, the Department said.
Officials on Grand Isle have closed its public beach. The Grand Isle Speckled Trout Rodeo scheduled for this weekend will not proceed with fishing activity, but tournament organizers will hold an “Island Time Festival” on Grand Isle this Saturday, May 29 at 5 p.m. It will feature music, food and prizes, the Department reports.
Coastal areas of Iberia and Vermilion parishes that were temporarily closed as a precaution reopened Monday to commercial and recreational fishing.
Louisiana crawfish are a freshwater shellfish species and all commercial crawfish ponds and natural habitat are inland and away from threatened areas.
Few affected areas are near inhabited areas. New Orleans is approximately 100 miles inland from affected areas and foresees no disruption in guest service or any negative impacts on visitors.
Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are overseeing all efforts to monitor the possible effects the spill may have on inland areas.
Official information is being posted by the response team (Coast Guard, Office of Homeland Security, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of the Interior, BP and Transocean) and updated several times each day at www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com and http://response.restoration.noaa.gov.
Memorial Day weekend events will continue, Shreveport says. Starting in Shreveport-Bossier, the Mudbug Madness Festival, which celebrates the beloved crawfish, will be held May 27-30 at Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport. There will be great zydeco and Cajun bands, lots of crawfish cooked just the way you like it, games and activities for the kids, and an overall great time for the entire family. For more information call 318-222-7403 or visit www.mudbugmadness.com.
In West Monroe, the Louisiana Southern Fried Festival will be happening May 28-30. It will feature a regional high school rodeo, lawnmower races, square dancing, chainsaw sculpting, furniture-making and more. For more information call 318-325-9160 or visit www.lasouthernfriedfestival.com.
The Jazz Pilgrimage Brunch is May 30, 8:15 a.m., in New Iberia at St. Edward Cafeteria. There will be a Pilgrimage March and Second Line. For more information call 337-560-5595.
The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is May 25-29 is one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind, celebrating 19 years of wine and food. The 2010 event brings together world-renowned winemakers, celebrated chefs and industry insiders in a showcase of signature events and one-of-a-kind seminars designed to entertain, educate and inspire.
For more information and updates on the oil spill visit www.louisianatravel.com. For more information about Shreveport-Bossier visit www.shreveport-bossier.org and www.shreveportbossierfunguide.com.