Louisiana’s high profile on the big screen has had a profound positive effect on our tourism industry. A whopping 14.5 percent of out-of-state visitors came here because of TV shows or films they saw that were shot in Louisiana.
The Bayou State boasts some pretty impressive numbers: In 2013, more films and television shows were shot here than any other state in the U.S. 12 Years a Slave, which won that year’s Academy Award for Best Picture, was shot at locations throughout Louisiana. The top-grossing film of 2015, Jurassic World, was shot partly in New Orleans. And NCIS: New Orleans, which premiered in 2014, is currently one of the top-rated shows on television, regularly garnering more than 10 million viewers on Tuesday nights.
Viewers mean money, and millions of both are coming into the state along with film productions. Take Duck Dynasty as an example. After it premiered in 2012, the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau launched the Duck Commander Hometown Tour, which helped tourists find Duck Dynasty filming locations. In a one-year period, hotel tax revenues jumped six percent. The CVB’s director stated that, without question, the television show’s popularity was the reason for that increase.
Those same visitors who come to Monroe for those tours also need to eat and shop, and business owners in Monroe and West Monroe are more than happy to oblige. The ripple effect that both tourists and film staff have on these adjoining towns lasts for years. There’s precedence for that, too: Tours of filming locations from the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias are still a popular draw to the central Louisiana town of Natchitoches.
The numbers speak for themselves: In a 2015 visitors’ poll, 72 percent of tourists were aware of films that were shot in Louisiana. Of those, 59 percent said that their awareness of the state’s landscape and culture affected their decision to visit, and many of those made visits to filming locations part of their vacation plans.
The story of New Orleans’, and by extension, Louisiana’s, tourism growth over the past decade has been well documented and is worthy of, forgive the cliché, a Hollywood ending. The film industry is one important piece of the puzzle, and those of us on Miles’ Louisiana/New Orleans team are excited to see the sequel to this story as we move into 2016.