LT. GOVERNOR MITCH LANDRIEU ANNOUNCES RECORD CROWDS AT LOUISIANA SPRING FESTIVALS -- 05/03/2007
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMEDIATE RELEASE
LT. GOVERNOR MITCH LANDRIEU ANNOUNCES RECORD CROWDS AT LOUISIANA SPRING FESTIVALS
"Word is out that we are open and ready for tourist business"
BATON ROUGE, La. - Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu announced today that attendance is up at Louisiana's festivals and special events this year, another indicator that the state's tourism industry is recovering from the hurricanes of 2005. Landrieu, whose office oversees the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, made the announcement after receiving reports of 90% plus hotel occupancy rates in New Orleans last weekend during the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Landrieu said April in Louisiana was a great month for tourism with record-setting attendance at French Quarter Festival in New Orleans and the PGA's Zurich Classic golf tournament. "Our Come fall in love with Louisiana advertising campaign has spread the word that our state is open and ready for business, and visitors are taking us at our word," Landrieu said. "They've come to experience our food, music and festivals and, in the process, are fueling the rebirth of Louisiana's tourism industry and economy."
Although officials at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival have not released official attendance numbers for the event, Angele Davis, Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism said she expects good news. "Last year's event drew between 300,000 and 350,000 visitors, who made an estimated $250 million impact on the local economy. If the second week of Jazz Fest is as good as the first, we look forward to some very positive economic news in May," she said.
Festival successes extend across the state. Betty Stewart, executive director of the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission, said even a rainy Saturday on the weekend of the Louisiana Strawberry Festival couldn't deter visitors from flocking to Pontchatoula the following day. "We usually exceed 350,000 visitors on the festival weekend, but this year it was pretty clear we hit that mark on Sunday alone," Stewart said.
Nancy Carter, spokesman for the Ascension Parish Bicentennial Festival, said the event last month in Gonzales drew 85,000 visitors. "We've been told by business owners that the festival weekend was more significant than a year's worth of business due to the contacts they made."
CRT Secretary Davis said Louisiana's spring festivals attract thousands of visitors who pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into the host communities. ""We have invested substantial monies in a tourism advertising campaign that markets all of Louisiana, and it is evident that we are realizing a considerable return on that investment," Davis said.
Chuck Morse, Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Tourism, said Louisiana's many festivals are a showcase for regional culture and cuisine. "From the nationally renowned Ruston Peach Festival to the Fest For All in Baton Rouge, our festivals give the visitor a slice-of-life of that region, " he said.
Morse says the tourism industry is excited over the return of the Essence Music Festival to New Orleans this summer. "This week, the Southeast Tourism Society named the Essence Music festival one of its 'Top 20 Events In The Southeast,'" he said.
The Essence Music Festival brings into New Orleans more than 200,000 tourists, and has had an impact on the local economy of approximately $90 million dollars.
"We are looking forward to the summer festival season," Morse said.