After an extensive internal cultural audit, the River Parishes Tourist Commission’s new marketing effort touts the area as a destination, not just a day trip.

Golden rays over Houmas House



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For Buddy Boe, Executive Director of the River Parishes Tourist Commission, the thought process was simple, yet brilliant:
“Before we can share who we are with the world, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Well, who are we?’”

Using that theme as an organizational compass, the River Parishes Tourist Commission recently underwent a complete rebranding in the dual hope of increasing traffic to already-popular attractions, as well as to fully promote fascinating cultural nuggets that had been under the radar for years.

After an extensive introspective research and discovery process, the Tourist Commission recently decided to redesign the NEW ORLEANS PLANTATION COUNTRY logo, overhaul its entire website ( to make it more contemporary, user-friendly and interactive, and have a profoundly greater presence at conventions and trade shows to promote the region’s uniqueness beyond just being an annex of New Orleans.

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“What we discovered is that there are stories, traditions and cultures that have never been told,” Boe said. “We have a rich, diverse story to tell and we’re excited to go tell it.”

Boe partially means that in the literal sense. The RPTC has begun production on its River Reels video series, which will be accessible on the website and YouTube channel to highlight interesting local characters, popular attractions like the region’s 10 plantation homes, and overlooked hidden gems — be they cultural, culinary or recreational. To complement River Reels, the commission also authors a blog that outlines various tours and suggested itineraries, seasonal attractions such as the Christmas Eve bonfires on the East and West banks of the Mississippi River, and even offers a pictorial retrospective of a centuries-old (and then some) sugarcane harvest from the River Parishes.

Home to the largest collection of plantation homes in the South — picturesque settings like Oak Alley in Vacherie, the steamboat design of the ornate San Francisco, or the expansive grounds of Destrehan— the River Parishes have always been a popular punctuation to those visiting New Orleans for a week or a weekend.

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So attracting tourists isn’t the challenge. Making them stay the night is.

That’s why the Tourist Commission has chosen to share some of the plantation-home spotlight with other To-Do’s and Must-See’s, in hopes of making it impossible for visitors to cram everything into a 12-hour window. For instance, the River Parishes are the home of Andouille Sausage and a tasty rivalry between neighboring smokehouses, the home of Perique tobacco, the launch site for several memory-making Swamp Tours, and various outdoors activities that further boast Louisiana’s “Sportsman’s Paradise” title. The Tourist Commission is also organizing a local ‘Film Trail’ that will outline River Parish destinations used as the settings of numerous iconic movies and TV Shows.

“Our job, and what we’re doing, is we have to flip the perception that we’re just a day trip,” Boe said, comparing it to the ‘Three-Hour Tour’ mentioned in the Gilligan’s Island theme song. “This can be a destination experience, a place that you stay overnight and fully explore for 2 to 3 days so that those hotels — that the Port and industries along the river keep full Sunday through Thursday — are also busy on the weekend.

“It’s economic development in a different form,” Boe continued. “The Port does it on a large, massive scale. We’re doing it on a medium-size scale.”

Speaking of the Port of South Louisiana, the Executive Regional Airport was primarily upgraded to accommodate business, but over the years has occasionally been used by tourists with private planes for leisure. Beyond that, the Port has used the airport to assist in tourism efforts. During the past three years, the Port hosted the Andouille Fly-In at the Airport on the October weekend of the Andouille Festival. The promotion was designed to encourage aviation enthusiasts to visit the festival by providing food on the tarmac and a shuttle to the grounds.

“At the Port, we’re always looking for ways to assist in the tourism effort,” said Paul Aucoin, Executive Director of the Port of South Louisiana and a board member of the River Parishes Tourist Commission.  “We share the same three-parish jurisdiction, and we share the same wish to bring in people, activity and development to St. James, St. John and St. Charles.

“So yes, things like having an accessible airport in the River Parishes can help tourism, as does having events like Aviation Awareness Day last year and the Andouille Fly-In — events that bring people out, because every little bit helps.”


Andouille Sausage


St. Michael Church





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