Our region has well over five million visitors annually according to the SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau. Most of those numbers are a result of our five casino resorts. Because of those casino resorts and the large number of new hotel rooms in our area, we now total about 9,000 hotel rooms in our five parishes.
SWLA can now host major conventions and conferences. The CVB says that last year we have had over 500 business and sports events in Calcasieu Parish.
We know this firsthand at the Alliance. The Louisiana Association of Chamber Executives, known as LACCE, held their annual meeting in Lake Charles at Golden Nugget. Attendees loved the venue… quality meeting rooms, excellent catering food and service, restaurant choices, lazy river, spa, and of course casino action. Our own Paula Ramsey, Chamber SWLA vice president, is this year’s president of LACCE. We are very proud of Paula for this accomplishment and her growth in the Chamber profession.
Later this month the Louisiana Industrial Executives Association, known as LIDEA, will have their Fall Conference at L’Auberge Casino Resort. The meeting rooms, food and beverage choices, and other resort amenities add to the experience.
In August, The Chamber SWLA hosted our 14th annual LegisGator Luncheon at L’Auberge. A sold-out crowd heard from Gov. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, and Congressmen Ralph Abraham, Garret Graves, Mike Johnson, and Clay Higgins. Retiring Louisiana Speaker of the House Taylor Barras and retiring Senate President John Alario were honored for their service to the state. Over 45 state legislators from all over Louisiana attended. This annual event is made possible by L’Auberge Casino and their fine staff. Prior to LegisGator another important group met at The SEED Center and then attended the LegisGator activities the following day. That organization is The Regional Economic Alliance of Louisiana (REAL). This group is composed of the eight regional organizations around the state. Our counterparts from Northwest and Northeast Louisiana, Central Louisiana, The Bayou Region, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Acadiana, and our SWLA Alliance.
The Annual Chamber Banquet will be held in January at Golden Nugget and we expect to pack the ballroom.
All of these and dozens more events are coming to our area because of the investments made by the casino resorts and nearby hotels which can handle thousands of guests. The new hotels along Nelson Road and Prien Lake Road offer different style rooms and amenities with national brands.
All of the hotels in Sulphur and other communities serve many sporting events in addition to business and recreation visitors. A large percentage of the hotel rooms are occupied by guests from business and industry.
Let’s not take for granted that all of these conferences and events would be coming to our areas without these quality properties.
Both L’Auberge and Golden Nugget have top ranked golf courses complimented by others in the area. As a result of that, a PGA Golf Event will be held in March of next year which is a major attraction and a first for SWLA.
In addition to attracting thousands of visitors to our area, the hotels and resorts employ thousands of people. The economic impact of the hospitality industry alone is over $725 million per year.
All of us can help our area be more welcoming to visitors and newcomers by taking the time to be courteous, especially when driving, and by becoming familiar with other area attractions, restaurants, and recreation so you can assist those who inquire. Cleaning up property, cutting grass, and eliminating litter will be a major plus in improving the appearance of our area.
Whether we work directly in the hospitality industry or not, how we treat visitors has a tremendous influence on whether those visitors will return. When they do come back, our entire area benefits financially.