Downtown Baton Rouge coming back to life as events return

An aerial photo of downtown Baton Rouge. (Stock photo)

Tourism in downtown Baton Rouge continues to be on the upswing, according to Karron Alford, director of marketing and technology for Visit Baton Rouge, who presented an update at this morning’s Downtown Development District meeting.

Downtown events are being scheduled at a level Visit Baton Rouge has not seen since March 2020, she says, and visitor numbers will rise with an upcoming KOA convention, LSU family weekend and holiday events.

Alford says she has not received this month’s numbers yet, but can tell there is an uptick in visitors to downtown and to its hotels, and has noticed, through surveys done by partner Destinations Analyst, that willingness to travel has risen nationally. 

Visit Baton Rouge is looking forward to 2022, Alford says, as Viking Cruises will begin bringing tourists to the city’s docks, the third cruise line to do so. The ships’ passengers bring business to downtown museums and restaurants, she says.

Visit Baton Rouge plans to send out its recently announced tourism survey Jan. 3.

Other items discussed at this morning’s meeting include:

  • The DDD Commission selected Emergent Method as the consulting firm to aid in its executive director search and is awaiting final approval of a contract. The commission will then form a search committee, create a job description and develop a recruitment strategy.
  • New shop Brass by Circa 1857 will move into the former Big Squeezy space on North Boulevard. The shop, owned by Garrett Kemp and Luke Lognion of Circa 1857, will sell gifts from local makers, along with coffee and tea. The store plans to open by Dec. 1.
  • Red Stick Revelry will return to downtown this New Year’s Eve after going virtual in 2020. The event will include live music, laser light shows and fireworks over the river.
  • A recreational trails grant was approved at the last Metro Council meeting to extend the River Road pathway to the north part of downtown, reaching new residential developments.