Mardi Gras has positive effects on economy in south Louisiana

Study on economic impact of Mardi Gras celebration

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 3:04pm

South Louisiana is famous for the celebration of Mardi Gras.  The beads, music, king cakes, balls are all examples of the traditions of south Louisiana's rich cajun culture.  Many get so caught up in the celebration and do not realize how much of a positive effect the Mardi Gras celebration has on the economy in south Louisiana.

"The hotels get filled the restaurants are full everybody benefits.  It's just a residual effect, it just keeps going with the people buy the ball gowns for all the Mardi Gras balls and then you have the tuxes and it just goes on and on every year.  A lot of people benefit from Mardi Gras here," says Bill Johnson, President of Southwest Mardi Gras Association.

Associate professors, Lucy Hinke and Gwen Fontenot, at UL Lafayette performed a study on the economic impact of Mardi Gras in Lafayette Parish three years ago, and the results were astonishing. 

"What is different about this compared to other studies like this is that we also looked at people who are residents who hosted guests and to find out what their expenditures were that they would otherwise not have spent because they had guests in town for the Mardi Gras events," says Lucy HInke, Associate Professor, Department of Marketing and Hospitality Management.

Their study also reached out to crews who work all year long for the Mardi Gras season and how much they spend as well as visitors that come in for the celebration.  The average parade attendee spent approximately $370 to celebrate Mardi Gras in 2010 in Lafayette Parish for total expenditures of over $100 million.  A number like this coming into Lafayette Parish each Mardi Gras season is almost unbelievable, but not to head of Marketing Department Gwen Fontenot.

"Didn't surprise me.  It's a lot but we know that Mardi Gras is very well supported here and people spend a lot of money on it because what we don't really think about is people start planning for mardi gras the day after Mardi Gras ends," says Gwen Fontenot, Associate Professor and Head of Marketing and Hospitality Management.

Bill Johnson says it is ultimately the culture that attracts tourists to south Louisiana's Mardi Gras celebration.

"Well it's just south Louisiana.  We offer everything we offer the food the fun you know let the good times roll that's what we do and everybody, we have that reputation down here," says Bill Johnson.

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