Living in the shadows of New Orleans, one of the great tourist destinations of the country, if not the world, Baton Rouge isn't typically thought of as a hot spot for the leisure traveler. But that has started to change in recent years, as the city and industry associations have begun marketing the Baton Rouge more aggressively as a place not to only to come do business at the state capitol or watch LSU football, but to come play.

Paul Arrigo is the longtime President of Visit Baton Rouge, the city's convention and visitor's bureau. Visit Baton Rouge is funded by the city's 6% hotel motel tax. The organization gets 4 cents of that. The other 2 cents goes to the Raising Cane's River Center. With that money, Visit Baton Rouge promotes and markets Baton Rouge as a destination for both the leisure and business traveler and convention groups.

Ben Blackwell is General Manager of the Courtyard Marriott, one of the newest hotels located right in the heart of downtown. When the Courtyard opened in September 2018, it brought the number of downtown hotel rooms to more than 1,000, which was a key goal of downtown and tourism industry leaders alike. Ben served in management roles in several other local hotels before moving over to the Courtyard Marriott. He also serves as President of the premier industry association in his field, the Baton Rouge Lodging Association.

Photos over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard by Karry Hosford.

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