For Immediate Release
Angie S. Manning, Communications Director, CDME
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
Shelley Johnson, CEO/Executive Director of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, Announces Retirement
LAKE CHARLES, La. (April 30, 2019) – On Tuesday, April 30, Shelley Johnson, CEO/Executive Director of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) retired with more than 30 years as the leader of the organization. Johnson’s career had many accomplishments, and the powerful impact that she has had on the tourism industry for Southwest Louisiana, the state, as well as on the national stage is remarkable.
“Looking back over my career and the growth and recognition of tourism as an industry, it seems surreal in many ways. I have given my all to every project and initiative, and with that has come incredible blessings along the way from seeing positive changes in the community to lifelong friendships. I feel honored to have served as the executive director of the CVB for the majority of my career, and tourism will always be in my heart,” said Johnson.
Johnson is the founding chairman of the of the National Scenic Byway Foundation and past board member of the foundation’s national marketing committee. She is a past presidential appointee to the White House Conference on Tourism, and she has also received a conservation award by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Southeast Region.
She has been the executive director of the CVB since 1988 as well as overseeing a second office for the CVB, Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, since 2015. During that time, the CVB has been well-recognized with accolades such as the CVB of the Year in 1997, 2000, and 2015 by Southeast Tourism Society, covering 11 southern states. The bureau has also received CVB of the Year by the Louisiana Travel Association in 2008 and 2012. In 2018, Shelley received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Louisiana Travel Association and The Beacon Award by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Perhaps one of Shelley’s greatest achievements has centered on the great outdoors with her crown jewel being the promotion and nurturing of the Creole Nature Trail that was officially designated in 1975. The Creole Nature Trail roadway was named as a state scenic byway in 1993 with members of the CVB and the Cameron Parish Tourist Commission. In 1996, the district worked to receive recognition of the trail as a federal byway, and then later, as an All-American Road in 2002. The Creole Nature Trail received many marketing grants, has a strong and distinctive brand, and it has been written about by travel media for decades. It is the number one tourism attraction for international visitors to Southwest Louisiana.
“The Creole Nature Trail All-American Road has been one of the highlights for my tourism journey promoting Southwest Louisiana. Showcasing the natural beauty found along the trail, the wildlife refuges, and all the intrinsic qualities of the area has been rewarding. It’s an example of how strategic marketing of something authentic for an area can truly put a spotlight on a destination and increase visitation from around the world,” said Johnson.
Johnson has grown the CVB from a small bureau with only a staff of 4 and a budget of $150,000 to the current staff exceeds 25 full and part-time employees. She has dedicated her entire life to tourism and encouraging others to achieve nothing short of excellence. She is revered throughout the tourism industry as someone who can get things done efficiently and effectively, always with hospitality at the core of everything that she does and going above and beyond to make the industry shine.
“While I am retiring from my position, I will never truly leave behind my desire to promote Southwest Louisiana as an enriching place to visit. From the natural beauty to the culture, culinary experiences, music, festivals, and our resorts, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana means so much to me. It’s something that will always be part of my life,” said Johnson.
To learn more about things to see and to in Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana, log onto VisitLakeCharles.org or follow #VisitLakeCharles on social media.