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Despite tourism boom, New Orleans hotels take a hit

4th December 2017   ·   0 Comments

A new report tracking hotel occupancy rates across the U.S. found that New Orleans is experiencing the largest year-to-year drop for the month of October, FOX 8 News reported last week.

The news comes as the Crescent City is in the midst of a major tourism boom that has significantly increased crowds for annual events like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Essence Festival, Mardi Gras and the Bayou Classic. It also comes as the city adds direct flights to London and the Big Easy becomes a popular tourist destination for high-profile celebrities like platinum-selling artist Beyonce and tennis great Serena Williams, who was recently married at a star-studded event in the city.

Tennessee-based STR reports that New Orleans’ hotel occupancy rate dropped to 69.9 percent last month.

The report showed that October occupancy rates for this year fell 9.7 percent when compared to 2016 and also revealed New Orleans had the second-largest decrease in revenue per available room, meaning on average, rooms were cheaper.

“I don’t know what exactly that decrease can be attributed to, maybe it was a pretty active hurricane season that we just had. I’m just not sure. I have to do a little bit more research to give you a better answer,” New Orleans Tourism and Visitors Bureau Vice President of Communications and Public Relations Kristian Sonnier told FOX 8 News..

Sonnier said he believes the decline is not the start of a trend. He said for the upcoming holiday weekend, hotel occupancy is above 90 percent.

“I think it’s anomalous. We’re seeing a lot of interest in New Orleans,” Sonnier said. “I think we are going to see a strong 4th quarter this year and a strong 1st quarter in 2018 that is going to continue throughout the year.”

STR Public Relations Manager Nick Minerd said analysts blame the decrease on a negative impact post-Hurricane Harvey, specifically early in the month.

Minerd also said there was a year-over-year decline around Voodoo Fest and the occupancy rate could have been affected in 2017 with Halloween falling on Tuesday versus Monday last year.

There is also the question of short-term rental sites like Airbnb stealing would-be customers away from hotels.

There are currently more than 3,000 short-term rentals in the city and occupancy rates for short-term rentals are not reported.

Sonnier told FOX 8 News that short-term rentals could “possibly” bring down occupancy rates.

“We are just not able to track what the occupancy numbers for short-term rentals are. It could be it. I’m not sure,” he said.

This article originally published in the December 4, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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