While Louisiana’s economy continues to outperform the nation, the effects of the recession are being felt in one of our biggest and most robust industries. The August issue of Louisiana Travel Pulse, produced by the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, suggests that the state’s hospitality sector is experiencing what Dr. Suzanne Cook, vice president of research for the U.S. Travel Association, calls “the new normal.”
Citing the Air Transport Association, Travel Pulse says June passenger revenue statewide for the largest U.S. airlines fell a precipitous 26 percent compared with June of 2008. That marks the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year declines. The number of passengers, however, is down only 6.5 percent, suggesting a drop-off mainly among big-spending business travelers.
Hotel occupancy through the first six months of 2009, compared to same period in 2008, is down nearly 9 percent. So too is the take at Louisiana’s river boat casinos, which account for the vast majority of gaming receipts (compared to Harrah’s in New Orleans and race track-based casinos): down 3.5 percent from last year. However, there were 288,000 visitors to state parks in the January-June period, outpacing the same period a year ago by almost 20 percent, evidence perhaps of tourists and residents alike being more budget-conscious about their recreation spending.
A bright note from the links: The Wetlands golf course, one of Lafayette’s public courses and also part of the 12-course Audubon Golf Trail scattered around the state, was the third busiest among member courses; duffers played about 17,000 rounds of golf at The Wetlands in the first six months of 2009, outpaced only by Audubon Park in New Orleans and Olde Oaks in Shreveport.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.