Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the resulting decline in travel and tourism, there is some good news for the local hotel industry.

Cody Gray, the new President and CEO of Louisiana Cajun Bayou Tourism, said in his annual report to Lafourche Township Council on Tuesday evening that the hotel business in Lafourche was stronger in 2020 than it was in 2019.

Occupancy increased 12.5%, average daily rate 2.9%, and revenue per available room increased 15.7% in 2020 compared to 2019, Gray said.

Gray attributed these increases to private contracts between oil and gas companies and large hotels where workers were quarantined before returning abroad. The companies have also partnered with restaurants to bring food straight to hotel rooms so as not to break the quarantine.

“This is a good situation for us and we are grateful for our hotel partners,” said Gray.

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With many people stuck at home, the Louisiana Cajun Bayou website visit rate also increased, with traffic increasing by 22%, with top web users from Louisiana, Texas and Florida being frequent. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media followers grew 47%.

“The marketing program is perfect,” said councilor Michael Gros. “Especially when the pandemic has hit people really hard.”

According to Gray, Lafourche also caught national media attention when Thibodaux was listed on TODAY’s Top Ten Small Town Restaurants list in the US, as well as articles in the Washington Post, Reader’s Digest and Travel Awaits.

Gray said tourism and travel contributed $ 54 million to the Lafourche township economy in 2019.

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In October, the organization helped launch the Bayou Feast Restaurant Month action in the Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary and Assumption communities to support local restaurants during the pandemic.

Gray said the tourism and travel industry on a national level is not expected to return to pre-COVID 2019 levels until 2024. In the meantime, the organization seeks innovative online marketing and the community’s strengths to keep the tourism industry alive.

“Outdoor spaces and recreation continue to be a big draw for people as many who want to travel again don’t want to go to a big city but to a smaller, free-moving destination,” said Gray. “This is another great opportunity for Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou as we continue to promote our wildlife, fishing, swamp, and small town scenes.”