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Vernon Parish slated to be travel motorcoach destination

BY ELONA WESTON
VERNON PARISH -- In coming months, Vernon Parish will become a stop for travel motorcoaches.
Vernon Parish tourism officials say this will enhance regional tourism and give some businesses a boost.
The tours were discussed Tuesday at the Vernon Parish Tourist Commission's monthly meeting.
"It's great potential for us to grow to a new level of tourism and really benefiting businesses and the economy of the parish," said John Crook, the commission's executive director.
Crook met with tourism representatives, travel agents and motorcoach companies during the International Powwow held recently in Chicago.
Vernon Parish officials were invited to the event, which is, "the travel industry's premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S.," according to the event's website.
"What this really boils down to is that we are going to begin having motorcoach tours coming to Vernon Parish so that's very exciting, and it's because of the state's very serious promotion of our byway (Myths and Legends Byway)," Crook said.
Crook said he doesn't expect tours to begin until the fall. He said in the meantime, there's work to do.
"I'll have to schedule meetings with hotel owners, restaurant owners and different businesses that would be affected by motorcoach visits," he said.
Crook said the tours will move the commission "to a different level."
"Bringing motorcoaches in won't cost us anything except my time, the staff coordinating these visits and going to shows to sell the area to motorcoach operators," he said.
Crook said many of the companies that expressed interest in Vernon Parish are looking for the things that the parish offers.
"Quite often in planning throughout the city and the parish, we hear negatives and deficits about what we don't have, but many of these people made appointments specifically because we are rural," Crook said.
Crook said one of the tour guide companies is from Taiwan and coordinates tours to different areas of the country for Taiwanese women .
"Who really want to come and see the real America -- the main street America. They are not looking to go to Jazz Fest and drink a lot of beer and hoot and holler. They are looking to go to small shops and go to museums, and things of that nature, and see how Americans live their lives everyday. Cultural and historical attractions are what they are looking for, and we have that," he said.
 
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