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."
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”