In a 1999 study conducted for LCVC on the economic impact of Mardi Gras in Lafayette, then UL Lafayette Professor Jerome Agrusa estimated that 38 percent of visitors to Lafayette for Mardi Gras were lodging with family or friends, and another 34 percent were staying in hotels. At the time of the study there were approximately 4,000 hotel rooms in Lafayette, filled to 84 percent capacity. (Eighty-five percent of those were Mardi Gras attendees.)
Breaux was recently notified by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu's office that FEMA's short-term lodging program for evacuees would continue indefinitely, leaving fewer beds for tourists. FEMA spokesman James McIntyre would not say whether there is a deadline for transitioning evacuees out of hotels into permanent housing. "We're not talking dates here," he says. "We're working with each case on a case by case basis. We're working with the applicants to ensure that everyone who is eligible for assistance will have assistance in hand and be given time to actually transition from the hotels to a more permanent housing solution." Across the nation, there are an estimated 40,000 hotel rooms still occupied by hurricane evacuees.
Although Mardi Gras in Lafayette is the city's largest annual tourist attraction, the bulk of the economic impact comes from locals, not tourists. Agrusa concluded that most of the revenue comes from the money spent on balls and dinners. There are 40 krewes in Lafayette with an average membership of about 125 members each, totaling roughly 5,000 krewe members in Lafayette. Parading krewe members spent an average of $587 each on the float itself and throws for the parade, for more than $1.1 million pumped into the local economy on parades alone.
Krewe members typically attend at least two balls or dinners apiece, spending an average of $267 on each event, and an additional $418 on clothing. At least $4.76 million was spent on balls and dinners alone. At the end of that festival season, Agrusa estimated that $109.3 million had been spent as a result of Mardi Gras festivities, generating $2.2 million in tax revenue for Lafayette.
And with a new krewe in Lafayette, Krewe of Carnivale en Rio, Lafayette Consolidated Government has designated another weekend preceding Mardi Gras week for the new parade to roll. Krewe member Janice LeBlanc says, "We can hopefully be the event that anchors a second weekend of Mardi Gras tourism in Lafayette and Acadiana."
Breaux agrees. "With the new Mardi Gras parade that has been added on Feb. 18, you have an opportunity to have two weekends for visitor traffic, as opposed to just that one long weekend. I don't know if all the traditional Mardi Gras krewes feel the same way, but for us, I think it's a better marketing opportunity. It's like why Jazz Fest takes place over two weekends." And despite all the best intention and planning, Breaux says there's always one main factor involved ' rain. "A lot of people are weather tourists," he says. "Depending on the weather, they're tourists, and that's understandable. No one's going to stand in a foot of water to catch beads."
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.