My journeys as part of the Louisiana Travel Association’s Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy
Dear Carrie, Happy New Year! We are excited to have you as a student for our fourth year.
I returned to work after holiday break to this greeting in my inbox. It was a New Year, 2018, and I was beyond excited to learn that I’d be embarking on a year-long professional development journey exploring our great state of Louisiana (the boot), as part of the Louisiana Travel Association’s (LTA) 2018 Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy (LTLA).
We’d represent a group of 28 strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real. Oops, sorry, flashback to my days binge watching MTV’s The Real World.
In reality, we were a group of 28 lucky tourism professionals from across the state, selected among a slew of applicants, to explore some of Louisiana’s best tourism assets in cities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, along with those lesser known, but just as enjoyable areas, like Natchitoches, Monroe-West Monroe and Avoyelles Parish.
The program’s mission is to build future tourism leaders, develop their leadership skills and strengthen their networks. And that it did!
Over the course of the year, I logged approximately 1,981 miles of travel, and committed 120 hours to the program. I learned about the importance of advocacy at the State’s Capital; I discovered the charm of Natchitoches (and learned how to pronounce it correctly!) and toured the church where Julia Robert’s character (Shelby) gets married in the movie Steel Magnolias; I shook the hand of the Mayor of Mansura, La., Kenneth Pickett, and tasted some of the best cracklins I’ve ever had at Durand Food Store – I would later place a special order to feature them at the rehearsal dinner of my wedding; I toured (tasted and enjoyed) Landry Vineyards – one of Louisiana’s few wineries; and I discovered a new found love for craft beer at Crying Eagle brewery in Lake Charles.
But more importantly, I made lasting connections with peers that I know I can call on at anytime for feedback, guidance or a favor. I went beyond my comfort zone of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and visited areas that I’ll travel back to one day, and will encourage others to explore as well. And I saw firsthand the hard work of our tourism leaders to promote Louisiana, not just for their wellbeing, but for all residents and visitors.
I’m happy to extend my involvement in LTLA as a proud alumnus and as part of the LTLA Auction & Scholarship Committee. The two-year commitment is made up of six individuals representing each former LTLA class. As part of my involvement, I’ll be meeting with future LTLA classes. And so, these boots will keep walking…
Do you represent a destination you would like to promote? Our professionals are passionate about travel and tourism and DEVENEY would love to help, tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG to get the conversation started.