The role of local tourist offices and how they deal with wider issues affecting their state has resurfaced amid the catastrophic oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.
Following last week’s furore over the controversial immigration laws passed in Arizona and its handling (or not) by the Arizona Office of Tourism, the focus now turns to the state of Louisiana, the state most likely to be on the end of what president Barack Obama has called a “potentially unprecedented” environmental disaster.
Although the state and federal governments are throwing huge resources to preventing damage to the Louisiana coastline, casual visitors to the officialÂ LouisianaTravel website and its associated presence on social networks would be none the wiser.
In the arguably more interactive channel that is Twitter, LouisianaTravel is also silent about the oil slick currently floating a few miles of its coastline.
NB:Â VisitMississippi, the neighbouring state, is also quiet about the issue.
Once again, avoiding the issue is a hugely controversial strategic decision.
Should a DMO publicly acknowledge the existence of a major environmental disasterÂ on its doorstep, especially one that will have far-ranging consequences for local and inbound tourism?
“We are currently working with our website director to add a message about the Oil Spill. The message will include that those planning a trip to Louisiana should not reschedule their trip because Louisianaâ€™s tourist destinations are not currently being effected. We are aware that our sport fishing industry could be impacted but at this time we donâ€™t know to what extent.”
This is the second time in half a decade that local tourist groups have faced enormous pressure as a result of a disasters not of their own making.
Hurricane Katrina decimated the local area in 2005 and hit the tourist sector as hard as of the other industry sectors in the region.