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New Orleans hotels could charge added fee for security needs

Published: Jun. 7, 2013 at 11:38 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2013 at 11:40 PM CDT
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A bill recently passed by the Louisiana Legislature allows hotels to charge a new fee that could help address those needs in the French Quarter.

Senate Bill 242 should generate money to both promote tourism and upgrade the French Quarter, including improvements to streets, lights and security.

"This is a start. Can I say that it's enough, no. But its something that's dedicated to the quarter year after year."  said Al Gross, general manager of the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

He lobbied for the bill.  If Governor Jindal signs the bill it would allow hotels like the Royal Sonesta to add a 1.75% fee on to guests bills. The money generated would pay to market New Orleans as a tourist destination world-wide and to upgrade the French Quarter.

But the language in the bill doesn't actually spell out how the anticipated $14 million will be divided. Proponents of the bill testified in committee that 12 million of the expected revenue would go into marketing , $2 million into French Quarter improvements.

Kelly Schultz with the Convention and Visitors Bureau says local leaders are now working to put everything in writing so residents can feel confident the money will go where promised.

"We are very serious about working with the city of New Orleans on doing a cea - a cooperative endeavor agreement that will formalize the agreement and make sure those funds are absolutely dedicated." said Schultz.

That cea should come within the next few months. Schultz predicts the hotel fee will then begin to be collected in late 2013 and people should see French Quarter improvements sometime next year.

Schultz says "It's not going to happen overnight, but it will happen, this is a huge victory and probably one the best thing to happen to the hospitality industry and economy in ten years."