Travel Pulse Canada was at an interactive luncheon in Vancouver, BC, which was hosted by the Louisiana Office of Tourism at Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.

Louisiana may seem low on the travel list of most Vancouverites but, according to tourism statistics, about 40% of Canadians visited the state last year, many of whom were from the west coast. Although the majority of visitors hit up New Orleans and the notorious French Quarter, tourism representatives from the state say that’s only one part of Louisiana’s culture.

With special guest Chef Ryan Trahan — named Chef to Watch by Louisiana Cookin' magazine in 2017 and more recently honoured with the prestigious state titles of King of Louisiana Seafood and King of American Seafood — attendees partook in cooking an authentic Creole meal that included blackened catfish and pain perdu (French toast with marinated berries) for dessert.

We spoke with Erica Telsee, Tourism Sales Manager at Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau, who said the state is promoting more widespread tourism.

“There are now two direct Air Canada flights from Vancouver to Dallas per day, and several others from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal,” she shared. “From Dallas, it’s really worth renting a car and using it as a starting point to get to New Orleans.” Along the way, she suggested travellers stop in Shreveport, Atchafalaya, Lafayette, Plantation County, and Jefferson Parish, which each offer a unique Louisiana experience.

Kayli LeBlanc agreed. She’s with Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission and said New Orleans is the melting pot of the Creole culture and flavour. “But there’s so much more to the state,” she said.

“What’s notable about Louisiana is the cultural differences you’ll find in each region.” For example, one city’s take on Mardi Gras, Gumbo (a popular Creole stew in Louisiana), or even blackened catfish is typically significantly different than another’s. “The state is almost its own country given its diversity,” LeBlanc added.

Travellers flying home from New Orleans can also expect a brand-new airport this spring. On May 15th, Louis Armstrong International Airport will open its gates to its new world-class terminal. The new 35-gate, 927,000-square-foot “North Terminal” will replace the existing A, B, and C concourses (including a repurposed Terminal D), to better accommodate the growing number of travellers. In fact, in 2018, the airport was up about 14% in total passengers.

One more reason Canadians may want to visit Louisiana: a program that offer sales tax refunds to visitors outside of the U.S. at many of the retailers. What’s more: Jefferson Parish is where to find the Louisiana Oyster Trail, where currently more than two dozen restaurants and businesses showcase the variety of ways Louisiana oysters are served and enjoyed.

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