Eunice, LA., (KLFY) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on the tourism industry in Louisiana, some local businesses are still struggling to stay afloat due to a lack of tourists.
Some small and rural communities have been hit the hardest, however, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser said he wants to ensure these communities aren’t being forgotten.
“We’re going to have to make sure we lean forward and make sure we support every event no matter how small and put state tourism dollars behind it to make sure they can revamp,” Nungesser said.
Nungesser is proposing to restore historical landmarks in small rural communities in hopes of pulling people in to support businesses.
“They see these neat shops, local restaurants. They make a friend for life and and they go back home and talk about it and it drives more people to come here to see those shops, those restaurants and see those special people,” he said.
One of these landmarks Nungesser is proposing to rebuild and restore is the Liberty Theater in Eunice. Built almost a century ago, the theater has been standing at the corner of West Park Ave. in downtown.
In the early 1920’s, the theater regularly hosted comedy shows. In the 1980’s, the theater became known for featuring Cajun and zydeco music bands on Saturday’s.
However, in 2019, the theater’s future became uncertain as the doors were closed and the stage lights turned off.
Billions of dollars have been lost in the tourism industry due to the pandemic Nungesser said.
“Getting back open is one thing, but making sure these shops, attractions and restaurants are making money once they’re back open is important,” he said.
Nungesser emphasizes continuing to support small and local businesses.