BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing New Orleans city leaders to do away with parades for the 2021 Mardi Gras Season.
Meanwhile Krewe captains there are trying to figure out what to do now.
Baton Rouge is not immune to those same worries, including what an altered Carnival Season will do to local businesses who thrive on visitors, like area hotels.
WAFB is told officials with the East Baton Rouge Mayor-President’s office will meet with local Mardi Gras crews this week to discuss their tentative plans for 2021.
But right now, the people in the hospitality industry, who rely on this big event, have more questions than answers.
“It will not be what we’re used to. It’s not going to be canceled but it’s going to be different,” said New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell.
It was the news of thousands of people changing their plans.
The City of New Orleans announcing no parades can roll during Mardi Gras, because of coronavirus concerns associated with large crowds.
“And that will really be determined by the people by the krewes as well as the public,” said Mayor Cantrell.
A spokesperson with the EBR Mayor-President’s Office said local plans are not final, but events will not look like year’s past. It’s not clear what that exactly means for parades.
“New Orleans will be much more hit if Mardi Gras is less robust fewer people travel to it. Here though (in Baton Rouge), it will be less retail spending, but it will be mostly Baton Rouge residents spending less in their own community than it would on stuff to hang out and party,” Said Andrew Fitzgerald with The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC).
On Tuesday, November 17, BRAC released their latest numbers on the local economy. It shows hotel occupancy and revenues continue to drop this year, because of course, fewer people are traveling. And those numbers could roll over to Mardi Gras season.
“It’s a small industry than it is some other places, but good businesses really are struggling. Employment is down 25% in the leisure and hospitality sector, which is restaurants, bars, hotels, arcades things like that,” said Fitzgerald.
Now it’s not just the hotel industry that could suffer from not having any Mardi Gras parades in Baton Rouge in 2021, but also AIRBNB owners, who have already suffered enough, from not having barely any LSU home football games.
“We can compare the month of November, to the month of November in 2019, and we can see we’re down about 30-40 percent,” Said Collin Richie.
Richie has been renting out his loft through AIRBNB for years now, could be without customers during the Mardi Gras weekend.
“So obviously AIRBNB owners like myself understand that Spanishtown Mardi Gras, and being in Spanishtown is a high demand date. So that is usually our most expensive day for our AIRBNB,” said Richie.
BRAC doesn’t expect our tourism and hospitality industry will totally recover until we have a vaccine for COVID.
A top member of the Spanishtown Mardi Gras krewe tells WAFB’s Lester Duhe', the parade is still on for now. But they have a conference call with Mayor-President Broome on Friday.
For now, it appears we are going to have to wait and see what happens.
Click here to report a typo.