BATON ROUGE, La. – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Office of Tourism today recognized a leader in rural tourism development. Former St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission Executive Director Celeste Gomez was honored with the inaugural Lt. Governor’s Rural Tourism Legacy Award.

“Celeste is a proven visionary and truly recognizes the value in regional and rural tourism. She specifically worked with neighboring parishes on the development and marketing of the Louisiana Zydeco Cajun Prairie Byway,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “While we have so many deserving individuals of this award, we felt Celeste should be our inaugural recipient because of her dedication and commitment to attracting visitors off the beaten path.”

The Louisiana Rural Tourism Legacy Award recognizes individuals who have retired from working in the Louisiana travel and tourism industry but continue to work to enhance their community for visitors.

Nomination criteria include:

  • Individual has retired from the Louisiana travel and tourism industry
  • Individual made significant contributions to the rural travel and tourism industry
  • Individual served in a rural business, convention & visitors center, tourist commission or other tourism-related entity

Celeste held the position of Executive Director for the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission from 1997 until retiring in 2019. During that time, she led the effort of marketing and positioning St. Landry Parish as a leading tourist destination in the state of Louisiana. She managed from concept to construction, the opening of the first “green” Visitor Information Center located in the southern United States in 2011.

She is currently serving as Member-at-Large of the Louisiana Tourism Development Commission. Celeste is also a member of the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society, Bulb & Blossom Garden Club and Petals of Mercy. Prior to her time with the Tourist Commission, she was a teacher at St. Edmund School and an assistant producer for the Louisiana Folklife Festival and director for the St. Landry Parish Heritage Festival. As resident of Eunice for over 50 years, she has seen the Liberty Theatre from its days as a local movie house to its standing room only Rendezvous des Cajuns performances and looks forward to witnessing its preservation and revitalization.

Contact Information:

Jennifer Berthelot
Louisiana Office of Tourism
[email protected] 

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
[email protected]

June 12, 2024