Baton Rouge – Three Natchitoches tourism leaders were installed as Directors of the Louisiana Travel Association (LTA)Board of Directors at its annual meeting at L’Auberge Casino& Hotel Baton Rouge. Arlene Gould, Executive Director of the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission; Jay Sharplin, owner of Sharpco Hotels; and Rebecca Blankenbaker, Executive Director of the Cane River National Heritage Area, are all returning to the Board in 2021.
“I am honored to be serving my sixth and final year as a board member of LTA and serving the 750 members the association represents throughout the state,” said Gould. “This organization has worked to lead and strengthen Louisiana’s tourism industry for 60 years, and I look forward to working with my fellow board members to keep the momentum going during this time of recovery and addressing the needs of the travel and tourism industry that was highly impacted by the pandemic.”
“Advocacy is necessary for the tourism industry, but especially now in times of uncertainty,” said Blankenbaker. “The Louisiana Travel Association works hard to advocate for our members and industry partners, and I’m honored to serve as a representative and voice for Louisiana’s public lands.
“I am looking forward to serving on the LTA Board of Directors,” said Sharplin, “and to a great year in 2021.”
New officers installed on the executive board committee include the following: Dickie Brennan, with Dickie Brennan & Company, as chairman; Kyle Edmiston, with Visit Lake Charles, as vice-chairman; Alana Cooper, with Monroe-West Monroe CVB, as treasurer; Ralph Ney , with Baton Rouge Marriott, as secretary; and Ben Berthelot, with Lafayette CVC, as immediate past chair.
New members on the board of directors include Mike Buckley, with Golden Nugget Casino Resort; Chris Landry, with LBA Hospitality; Jady Regard, with Cane River Pecan Company; and Stephen Watson, with National WWII Museum.
Returning members on the board of directors are Joanna Folse-Alexander, with Sunrise Hospitality; Jeremy Cooker, with New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.; John Crook, with Vernon Parish Tourist Commission; Kevin Dolliole, with Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport; Brandy Evans, with Shreveport-Bossier CTB; Morgan Moss, with The Myrtles Plantation; and Donna O’Daniels, with St. Tammany Parish Tourist & Convention Commission.
Ex-Officio member appointed by the chair includes Doug Bourgeois, Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Associate member appointed by the chair includes Nelson Gumm, with AJR Media Group.
New directors will also include representatives of each of the Chairman’s Circle partner organizations: Visit Baton Rouge; Houma Area CVB; Lafayette CVC; Visit Lake Charles; Monroe-West Monroe CVB; New Orleans & Co.; Louisiana’s Northshore; Shreveport-Bossier CTB; and Tangipahoa Parish CVB.
“Our executive committee and board of directors are responsible for helping us meet the needs of our members and making sure we accomplish our goals of providing educational and marketing opportunities while also advocating on the industry’s behalf,” said Jill Kidder, LTA president and CEO. “We are excited to be starting off another year with a great group of industry leaders that represent the entire state.”
Officers on the executive committee and members of the board of directors are elected during the annual meeting. Each year, the chairman of the board selects a nominating committee that is comprised of members who are not up for re-election and who are not seeking office. This committee is responsible for presenting a slate to the members of the association that recognizes all regions of the state and all segments of the tourism industry.
About the Louisiana Travel Association
LTA is a trade association leading and strengthening Louisiana’s vibrant tourism industry through promotion, education and advocacy on behalf of our members. Tourism generated $1.9 billion for Louisiana in 2018 and employs more than 237,200 people throughout the state. For more information, visit LouisianaTravelAssociation.org.