After months spent combing through more than 350 applications, the state’s independent review panel on Wednesday released the names of 43 Louisiana organizations that will share in the first $16 million of the $57 million program geared toward reviving tourism along the Gulf Coast following the 2010 BP oil spill. 

“This was a very thorough process,” says Patrick Juneau, the Lafayette lawyer overseeing the claims process, in a prepared statement released Wednesday. “We feel each of these applicants presented a unique and well-defined plan to use these funds as tourism generators and promotion of local seafood.”

Of Louisiana's $16 million, $500,000 is coming to the Lafayette Parish Convention and Visitors Commission, director Ben Berthelot tells IND Monthly. That money, he says, will be used for multiple tourism-related projects, including the promotion of local seafood and tourism at travel/trade shows, as well as a campaign targeting food writers, bloggers and the national news media. The money also will go toward ramping up the commission's online, print and outdoor advertising efforts, Berthelot says.

Wednesday's list also includes convention and visitors bureaus in Iberia, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes, the Opelousas Tourism Office, Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia and the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival.

Like Lafayette Parish, the Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau also will receive $500,000, says director Fran Thibodeaux. While Iberia and Lafayette parishes share similar plans for the money, one unique project mentioned by Thibodeaux is a partnership with  the Delcambre Direct Seafood Market. Though a specific amount has not been determined, she says some of Iberia Parish's cut of the BP money will go toward promoting the Delcambre project, which allows consumers a chance to connect with boat captains to arrange a time and place to purchase seafood straight from the town's boat dock.

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