America’s WETLAND Certifies News Orleans’ Tour Guides

New Orleans, LA Through a new voluntary certification program developed by Loyola University and America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, members of the Tour Guide Association of Greater New Orleans, Inc. on Saturday became the first to earn certification as experts on Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, an area known as America’s WETLAND.

“This is an exciting opportunity to ensure that visitors to New Orleans will return home with a clear understanding of how important our coastal wetlands are to the state, nation and world, said Dr. Robert Thomas, Chair of Environmental Communications for Loyola University and the instructor of the certification workshop. America’s WETLAND is a national treasure, and we must do everything we can to communicate its value to all who visit our state.”

The program, called America’s WETLAND Voluntary Tour Guide Certification is a one-day training session providing tour guides with the information necessary to effectively communicate the issues surrounding Louisiana’s coastal land loss to visitors.

America’s WETLAND, which has world ecological significance, is home to more than two million people and provides essential habitat for animal, plant and marine species. Additionally, these valuable wetlands protect the world’s largest port system by tonnage and the infrastructure responsible for transporting 30 percent of the oil and natural gas consumed in the United States, making it strategically important for our nation’s energy security and independence. Yet these protective wetlands have been disappearing at the rate of 24 square miles per year, leaving low-lying areas, like New Orleans, dangerously exposed to major storms.

“Louisiana is a unique destination with a distinctive cultural heritage shaped by the ties of its people to the land and water and wildlife around them,” said Angele Davis, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. These attributes put Louisiana at the center of eco-cultural tourism, an emerging trend in world travel, and it is important that programs such as these are developed to educate tourists about the fragile condition of our wetlands.

“This is a big step in our ongoing efforts to educate the public about Louisiana’s endangered wetlands. Tourists are a key constituency for us, and this program will help to ensure that they become advocates of coastal restoration,” said Sidney Coffee, Chair of the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority and Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities.

The America’s WETLAND campaign was launched by the State of Louisiana in order to raise national awareness of the impact the state’s wetland loss has on the state, nation and world. By educating the public about the emergency situation created by the state’s land loss and the region’s world ecological significance and importance to national economic and energy security, the campaign aims to gain support for its efforts to conserve and save coastal Louisiana.

The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth.

To find out more about America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, visit www.americaswetland.com.

To learn more about travel opportunities to Louisiana please visit www.louisianatravel.com or call 1-800-33-GUMBO.