Walter Pierce

Budget scythe fells 11 in state tourism department

by Walter Pierce

Responding to budgetary dictates from on high, the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism distributed the memo no one wants to receive: layoff. Eleven full-time employees in the Baton Rouge tourism office — ranging from the marketing director to lower level staffers such as public information officers and a photographer — have gotten word that their jobs are being eliminated. The layoffs come as a result of the department — like virtually every state office — streamlining operations to meet budget cuts announced by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. The job eliminations will go into effect once the department’s layoff plan is approved by the Department of State Civil Service.

In a copy of the plan obtained by The INDsider, CRT Secretary Pam Breaux, writing to civil service Director Shannon Templet, lays out the rationale for the layoffs:

The reorganization and layoff plan is proposed for the Office of Tourism (located within CRT) for two reasons: (A) The Office of Tourism is being restructured to increase effectiveness and efficiency, eliminate duplications of effort, and refocus the efforts of the staff on research and the management of agency sponsorships, partnerships, and contracts, and (B) In light of the current troubled economy, it is important for the Office of Tourism to be efficient in its operations.

To that end, Breaux continues, the CRT will create a research department to focus the agency’s marketing of state tourism, and money saved through the elimination of salaries will be devoted to increased advertising for the state, “because we know that for every $1 spent by the state on tourism advertising, $17 is returned to state coffers, and the ensuing economic impact is significant.”