Businesses take a financial hit this holiday weekend amid canceled events

French Quarter businesses take financial hit this holiday weekend

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - This 4th of July is not what tourism leaders hoped it would be. With lots of canceled events because of the pandemic, this year some businesses will take a huge financial hit.

Without big events like Essence Fest and July 4th on the river, tourism officials anticipate a huge loss in revenue this weekend, compared to years past.

While New Orleans is usually bustling with activity on July 4th, tourism officials say this year will be slower.

Mark Romig with New Orleans and Company doesn’t anticipate high hotel occupancy and says many places aren’t open yet.

“When you open up a big operation, it takes manpower, it takes power and utilities, and the food and beverage. It’s hard to operate a property with single-digit occupancy,” Romig said.

Romig says missing out on Essence Fest will be a huge economic hit.

”The Essence Festival had an economic impact last year of almost $300 million alone. That’s a huge amount of business activity that we’re not seeing this weekend,” Romig said.

Despite the canceled events, visitors are still in town. Some who came to New Orleans for the first time say they wish more businesses were open.

“I really feel like everything should be in full swing. You know, a lot of major cities everything is up and running with precautions to COVID-19, but I really still feel like everything should be up and running. Get people their money, let people spend money, let people come to New Orleans for a party cause that’s what it is, it’s a party town,” one visitor said.

The owner of Tropical Isle, Pam Fortner, says business is slowly picking up since they reopened.

“It’s nice to see customers coming back to see us, some old friends come back, and a lot of businesses are closed down in the French Quarter. Still quite a bit of plywood up,” Fortner said.

She expects business to be slow this weekend but says they’ll manage.

“In our first five years, we wouldn’t have made it. We wouldn’t have had the money, but fortunately, we’ve been in business long enough that we can sustain for a little while,” Fortner said.

Yesterday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned against large gatherings this weekend, and she says she won’t hesitate to add more restrictions if COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

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