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."
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election the same as other candidates, filling out paperwork and handing over qualifying money. But he finished it like no other, doused with ice.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Jell-o sales plummet; Hamas kills suspected informers; bodies arrive in Malaysia and more national and international news for Friday, August 22, 2014.
That’s what Lafayette Parish has obtained in Pentagon surplus since 2006.
Qualifying continues through Friday.
The political tilt of the Senate during President Barack Obama's final two years in office is likely to hinge on a handful of female contenders in tight and costly races.
A former BP executive will be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom later this month while he awaits trial on charges relating to an investigation of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.