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."
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.