October 13, 2023

Tamaria Williams
Communications Manager
(225) 382-3577

Baton Rouge earns three Shining Example awards from Southeast Tourism Society

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Southeast Tourism Society awarded Baton Rouge three Shining Example wins during their annual STS Connections conference in Jackson, Mississippi. The STS Shining Example Awards recognize outstanding contributions to travel and tourism within the Southeast United States.

Baton Rouge stood out in multiple categories, being awarded: Escape to the Southeast Travel Attraction of the Year – The 13th Gate Haunted House, Governmental Tourism Leadership Award – Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, and the Beacon Award – Stacy Simon, Senior Vice President of Destination Experience for Visit Baton Rouge.

“To be recognized among other outstanding destinations across the Southeast is a true honor for our community and destination marketing organization,” said Jill Kidder, President & CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. “These achievements wouldn't have been possible without the steadfast support of our entire community and partners, and I extend my sincere gratitude to everyone for their unwavering support of our industry.”

Kidder continued by congratulating Simon on her individual win adding, “Stacy's visionary leadership has undeniably transformed the tourism landscape, and this recognition is a testament to her invaluable contributions and passion for what she’s done for Baton Rouge. She’s definitely a shining example of the Southeast and beyond!”

• Escape to the Southeast Travel Attraction of the Year: The 13th Gate Haunted House

This award is given to an attraction whose work has resulted in a year of notable accomplishment. Since 2002, the 13th Gate has been bringing in locals and visitors through a journey of 13 ultra realistic realms, each designed to draw them into an immersive haunting experience. The attraction was nominated by USA Today 10Best as one of the “Best Haunted Attractions” in the United States in 2022, 2021, and past years. Additionally, Hauntworld Magazine ranked 13th Gate at number two on their list of the 13 scariest haunted houses in the country for 2022.

• Governmental Tourism Leadership Award: Rep. C. Denise Marcelle

This award honors an elected official whose support or influence greatly enhanced the tourism industry. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle’s commitment to advancing black history in Louisiana and commemorating the civil rights movement is noteworthy, having organized and hosted annual events to celebrate the achievements of people of color. Marcelle has been instrumental in her support of the tourism industry, co-authoring Act 319 that established the Tourism Recovery and Improvement Districts (TRID) after the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently, HB 450, which authorizes the governing authority of East Baton Rouge to rebate sales and use tax revenue collected on the sale of admission tickets to certain events.

• Beacon Award: Stacy Simon, Senior Vice President of Destination Experience for Visit Baton Rouge

Stacy Simon earned this award for her exceptional leadership that’s helped change the tourism industry for the better. Simon's past accomplishments include orchestrating the Parade of Champions back in 2004 where Louisiana State University and Southern University’s bands performed for the very first time together, co-chairing the organizing committee for the U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championships that attracted more than 66,000 bowlers competing over 150 days, and helping establish the successful annual music festival Bayou Country Superfest. She’s also a member of several community and professional organizations.

The Baton Rouge Blues Festival was also selected as a “Signature Event of the Southeast.” A Signature Event Award seeks to bring more publicity and recognition to the best events in the Southeast. These celebrations represent the soul of the South and serve as inspiration for future explorations of the Southeast region.

For more information about the Shining Example Awards and the Southeast Tourism Society, please visit


About Visit Baton Rouge
Visit Baton Rouge is the designated Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for East Baton Rouge Parish, responsible for promoting and showcasing the region. Our primary mission is to increase visitation to and awareness of the Baton Rouge Area thereby enhancing economic impact. Stay up to date with the latest press releases and Baton Rouge tourism news at Join our social media community and follow us @visitbatonrouge for more updates.

About Southeast Tourism Society
The Southeast Tourism Society is a not-for-profit membership association dedicated to the development of travel and tourism professionals and organizations within the southeast region. STS’ mission is to strengthen the economic vitality of the region by uniting all segments of the travel and tourism industry through the four pillars of education, advocacy, recognition, and networking. Member states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.