New rum distillery a highlight during Louisiana tourism week - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

New rum distillery a highlight during Louisiana tourism week

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JEFF DAVIS PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Tourism is a booming business in Louisiana and despite budget cuts across the state, Louisiana had its best year yet for tourism during 2012.

One in every 10 Louisianans is employed in the hospitality industry.

During 2012, 26.3 million people visited Louisiana and spent $10.7 billion. That left about $665 million in tax revenue to state and local governments.

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne made a visit to Southwest Louisiana on Wednesday to tour the Louisiana Spirits rum distillery in Jeff Davis Parish.

Officials said the new attraction will generate even more visitors.

"This is going to be an exciting new attraction for Jeff Davis and really for the whole state," Dardenne said. "It's right on the interstate and it's going to reflect on Louisiana's sugar cane, and will actually be distilling rum to be sold."

Co-owner Skip Cortese said the facility is designed to accommodate tours and large groups.

"We have created a destination spot for tourism," Cortese said. "People can experience rum made here in Louisiana."

The rum, known as Bayou Rum, will come from Louisiana sugar cane.

"It's exciting to introduce a new business and a new product," Dardenne said. "In particular, it will be one that uses entirely Louisiana products. It's truly a Louisiana made and processed product."

Jennings Mayor Terry Duhon said the city had more than 40,000 visitors during 2012.

"We had almost $20 million dollars spent in Jeff Davis Parish," Duhon said. "That amount equates to about half a million dollars in local tax revenues for the municipalities in Jeff Davis."

Officials said between the location and the uniqueness of the distillery, it is sure to be an addition to the hot spots in Jeff Davis.

"When people make travel decisions, they are interested in authenticity and looking for something they can't experience in their own backyard," Dardenne said.

Owners said the distillery is set to open between June and July.

"This is going to be a tremendous travel corridor," Dardenne said. "I guarantee you that people who are traveling east and west on Interstate 10 are going to stop in Jeff Davis."

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