The St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal District recently received the St. Bernard Tourist Commission’s 2016 Friend of Tourism Award.
Presented this year during the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce’s gala held Dec. 8, the award is given annually by the Commission to a local business or organization that helps bring tourists to St. Bernard.
Gayle Buckley, Tourist Commission chair, said the Commission chose the Port as this year’s recipient due to its active role in promoting tourism in St. Bernard.
“We chose to recognize the Port for its tour-boat landing barge that allows visitors arriving by paddle wheeler easy access to visit the historic Chalmette Battlefield,” Buckley said. “Most people are totally unaware of the large number of visitors who come to the Battlefield on the Creole Queen via the landing because they come by river.”
Built in the 1990s, the tour-boat landing was in operation until a hiatus following Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. According to Buckley, when the mooring reopened in 2010, nearly 34,000 Creole Queen passengers utilized the pier to visit the Battlefield. Since then, Buckley said the landing has provided more than 221,000 visitors with a chance to witness a huge aspect of St. Bernard Parish’s rich history.
Dr. Robert Scafidel, the Port’s executive director, accepted the award at the Chamber’s gala.
“We are pleased to be honored by the Tourist Commission with this award,” Scafidel said. “The Port is committed to bringing to light all that St. Bernard Parish has to offer, both in the maritime industry and historically.”
Others who attended the gala to receive the award on behalf of the Port are: Drew Heaphy, Port director of administration; and Cheri Chestnut Quigley, president of the Port’s Board of Commissioners.
Much has changed since the 1980s when the St. Bernard Port purchased and redeveloped the 216-acre site of the old Kaiser Aluminum plant. The development of that Chalmette Terminal, along with the Arabi Terminal in 1993, the Violet Terminal in 2012 and its Midstream Operations in Meraux and Violet, has made the Port an economic engine for St. Bernard Parish.
Each year, the Port handles millions of tons of bulk, break-bulk and general cargo transfers, to and from thousands of barges and hundreds of cargo ships. In addition, the Port, along with its tenants and users of its facilities, produce an estimated $325 million in direct and indirect spending annually for the local economy, and create more than 2,000 full-time jobs.