Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Reaches Ecotourists

Strategy: Focus on Customer Potential, Know Your Customer/Product

Type of attraction: Heritage Area/Scenic Byway/Heritage Trail

Summary: The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area was established in 2006 to celebrate and preserve the heritage and culture of 14 parishes in south central Louisiana after having state heritage area designation for the previous eight years.

The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area was established in 2006 to celebrate and preserve the heritage and culture of 14 parishes in south central Louisiana after having state heritage area designation for the previous eight years. Through a process of listening and gathering information on what visitors to the region wanted, the heritage area was prepared when the economic downturn arrived because they knew what their visitors wanted and were able to strategically add programs that would attract their target audiences.

Although the area is known for its plantation homes, research revealed an interest in outdoor activities among younger visitors, so the National Heritage Area expanded its promotions to focus on ecotourism.  The National Heritage Area created an outdoor-recreation section on its website which includes information on birding (including a list of birds that can be seen in the area), paddling, cycling and golfing. This promotional expansion has also given the National Heritage Area the opportunity to reach out to local bicycle and paddling clubs. As Debra Credeur, executive director of Atchafalaya National Heritage Area notes: “We may think of a tourist or visitor as someone from Montana, but there are a lot of tourists and recreationists right here in the state.”

For more information visit www.atchafalaya.org; or contact Debra Credeur at dcredeur@crt.state.la.us.